An impromptu meeting has been called to cool tempers between the Attorney General, Athaliah Molokomme, and private firm of attorneys, Armstrong Attorneys, who are acting on behalf of Kgalagadi Breweries.
Last week, the brewer obtained a relief from the High Court restraining government from imposing the 30% levy on alcohol which was supposed to have effected.
After the relief, Dr. Molokomme notified the Chief Justice through the High Court Registrar of “irregularities” that had occurred during the process.
Through her letter to the Registrar, Dr. Molokomme requested the Chief Justice to set up a panel of three judges to hear her interlocutory application which she said had not been heard prior to Justice Unity Dow giving relief to Kgalagadi Breweries.
Dr. Molokomme also took issue with the fact that Justice Unity Dow had sat as a single judge, despite the fact that there were some weighty constitutional issues arising from the case.
If the tone of the letter written the Chief Justice through High Court Registrar soured relations between the Attorney General and Armstrong Attorneys, then the response by Armstrong Attorneys had the effect of altogether killing whatever love may have remained between the two parties.
The response by Armstrong Attorneys has not only annoyed Dr. Molokomme, it has also provoked her to demand an immediate retraction because of the harm on her personal and professional integrity.
“This is a very serious allegation which questions my professional integrity as an officer of the court and as Attorney General. I, therefore, expect an immediate retraction of this defamatory statement and reserve my rights in this regard. It must be recorded that I did not and have no intention of misleading and improperly influencing the Chief Justice,” says the clearly disturbed Molokomme.
“With specific reference to the fact that my request to the Chief Justice was not copied to yourselves, Mr Motswagole informs me that he did in fact apologise in open court indicating that this was an oversight. He further informs me that this was accepted by yourselves and the court and you did not question the merit of my request to the Chief Justice.”
“The allegations and conclusions you reach here are simply startling and entirely without basis.”
Dr Molokomme emphasizes that at no point did she make any attempts to dilute Judge Dow’s participation or to procure her removal from the matter.
“My letter simply pointed to irregularities in the manner in which the matter was handled, and was not a personal attack on the Judge as you seem to imply. Once again these are serious allegations against my personal and professional integrity for which there is no basis. I expect an immediate retraction of these defamatory statements and fully reserve my rights in this respect,” said Dr. Molokomme.
The Chairman of the Botswana Law Society, Duma Boko, confirmed that he has received correspondence of exchanges, but said he is still to study the letters with his colleagues before coming up with a position.
“We just received the correspondence between the two parties. We have not studied it. What I know is that the Attorney General says she has been defamed. But the truth is I haven’t applied my mind to the exchange,” said Boko.