Chief Justice, Maruping Dibotelo has expressed unhappiness over judicial officers who often leave the bench or the magistracy positions before completing their cases. Speaking during a party to bid farewell to the retired Francistown High Court Judge President Mpaphi Phumaphi in Francistown at the weekend, the Chief Justice said leaving the bench or the magistracy without completing cases by some judicial officers results in failure of justice much to the chagrin of the litigants, members of the public and the accused persons.
“Judge Phumaphi concluded the cases which were pending before him within the allotted time including the delivery of judgments. This is what we expect from all judicial officers. The judge has set a good example worth emulating in that when one retires or leaves the magistracy, they must timeously complete their cases instead of leaving part heard cases as some former Judicial offices have done,” he said.
He said Justice Phumaphi set a clear example of leadership and a sense of selfless dedication to duty.
He added that there is need for more of virtues and attributes from all judicial officers so that the public continues to repose confidence in the legal and justice system. Dibotelo further showered accolades on the former Francistown High Court Judge President for his meritorious service to the judiciary and his long extinguished and illustrious career. He said section 97 of the constitution stipulates that a person holding the office of Judge of the High Court shall vacate that office on attaining the age of 70 years “Judge Phumaphi attained that age of 70 in July 2015. However in conformity with the provision to the aforesaid section 97, Judge Phumaphi was permitted to continue in that office by the President acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission until December 2015 to enable him to complete cases which were pending before him, including the delivery of judgments as well as to finish the onerous task he was assigned in the Kingdom of Lesotho,” said the Chief Justice.
Giving a brief background of Justice Phumaphi’s career, he said that they first met each other in 1970 at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (BOLESWA) when he (Dibotelo) was doing his first year at the University. They also studied together at Edinburgh, Scotland in 1973. Thereafter they continued to interact as lawyers and close friends.
“Judge Phumaphi is one of the early citizen pioneers in the legal profession. He attained his law Degree in 1974 and worked for government as a state prosecutor in 1974 to 1975. In 1976, Justice Phumaphi and former Judge, John Mosojane embarked in private practice until he joined the bench,” said the Chief Justice.
The Chief Justice said Justice Phumaphi served with distinction in private practice with his clear and audible voice as a trade mark. He also added that Justice Phumaphi had full support and confidence of his peers in private practice who selected the inaugural Chairman of the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) in 1996 until 2000. He said that Justice Phumaphi was then approached for the High Court Bench and on the 1st of October 2002 he was appointed judge of the High Court based at Lobatse. After his appointment and posting in Lobatse Judge Phumaphi was on the 18th of November 2002 transferred to the High Court in Francistown.
“Following the retirement of Judge Mosojane in 2008, Justice Phumaphi became the judge in charge of the Francistown Division of the High Court by virtue of being the most senior judge until his retirement. I had also delegated to Judge Phumaphi the supervision of all the Magistrates in the Northern Region,” he said.
Among other important issues, Chief Justice Dibotelo said Justice Phumaphi was a brilliant Judge who would occasionally assist at the Court of Appeal cognizant of his analytical, well-reasoned and researched judgments.
Speaker after speaker commended the former Judge for his significant contribution to the judiciary and the legal fraternity in Botswana.
For his part Justice Phumaphi thanked all members of the judiciary and the legal fraternity for having worked with him cordially. He emphasized that it is important for the judiciary to continue and protect its image in order to gain public confidence in its quest to administer justice.
Justice Phumaphi who sat in the High Court bench for 13 years, will be replaced by Justice Zibani Makhwade as Francistown High Court Judge President.