Monday, July 15, 2024

Botswana’s justice system favors the rich and powerful-litigant

Local company, Infotrac’s Managing Director Mompoloki Motshidi has launched a scathing attack on the country’s justice system following his double loss at the Court of Appeal (CoA). In a significant ruling, the CoA upheld an appeal by Debswana, the mining giant co-owned by the Botswana government and De Beers, against a P110 million lawsuit filed by local company Infotrac. The CoA’s three-judge panel unanimously ruled against Infotrac in two key matters: an urgent application for their recusal and the main appeal by Debswana.

The decision marked a significant turn of events after the High Court had previously ruled in favor of Infotrac. Infotrac had also filed an application for the recusal of the three-judge panel, consisting of Judge President Tebogo Tau, Justices Dr. Singh Walia, and Johan Froneman. The basis for the recusal was Justice Walia’s alleged conflict of interest. Infotrac argued that Justice Walia’s wife works as the personal secretary to Debswana’s lawyer, John Carr-Hartley of Amstrings Attorneys, where the judge himself used to be a partner.

In a remarkably swift ruling, Justices Tebogo and Froneman took just 60 seconds to deliver a blow on Infotrac. On both the judgments on recusal and the main appeal. As a result, Infotrac has been ordered to pay the legal costs associated with the case. Motshidi, expressed his disappointment with the Botswana justice system in the wake of the CoA’s decision. He had accused the judges of a conflict of interest saying his remarks were meant to undermine the judiciary’s integrity but out of a belief in the principles of fairness, impartiality, and justice. Motshidi emphasized that his case represented not only himself but countless individuals who often find themselves disadvantaged by a system that appears biased against them. “I firmly stand by my assertion that I lost not to Debswana but to a judicial system plagued by conflicts of interest.”

He expressed his frustration that his concerns had been ignored and likened his experience to “a cockroach seeking justice in a court of chickens.” He called on citizens who believe in justice and equality to reflect on the case and work toward a truly impartial system where conflicts of interest are promptly addressed. Debswana released a statement following the CoA’s judgments, expressing satisfaction with the outcome. The mining giant stated that the Court had correctly applied the law to the facts of the case and that the reasoning of the judgment was sound. Debswana further mentioned that the judgment had completely vindicated its position on the matter, effectively closing the case. The dispute between Infotrac and Debswana had been ongoing for some time, with Infotrac initially prevailing in the High Court.

However, the CoA’s recent decision has reversed that outcome, leaving the company with significant legal costs.

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