In a letter that clearly questions Michael Mothobi’s fitness as a judge of the High Court, two law firms have launched a complaint with Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo‘s office against the judge’s failure to deliver a ruling for preliminary points in an intermediate application.
The letter, dated 28th of this month, has requested Dibotelo to intervene.
In an urgent case involving the sale of a house in Phakalane, the arguments for the preliminary points were heard by Mothobi in April this year.
The law firms, Dingake and Partners and Busang Sebonego Attorneys have also notified the Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme and the Law Society of Botswana.
Mothobi is accused of sleeping on the ruling despite the hearing of the arguments for the preliminary points six months ago.
The letter, signed by Martin Dingake and Laone Serole, states that the litigants in the case have pressed the lawyers to seek a court ruling, ordering the judge to make a determination on the case.
However, the lawyers say that is not an option they want to pursue, at least for now.
The lawyers claim that Mothobi was supposed to have delivered the ruling on the 2nd of June. Around August, when the attorneys made inquires on the pending ruling, they were told to expect it by November 17th.
However, they claim on this day Mothobi did not turn up for court, only to be told later that the judge could not sit because there was no court room and the matter was subsequently moved to the 24th of November.
“The urgency in the matter which originated on the 25th March 2011 has since died and the parties’ rights remain undetermined. In all these, no attempt to appraise the parties fully as to the status of the matter is being made by the Court and the parties continue to attend to Court for the delivery of the ruling at great costs and inconvenience,” the letter reads in part.
On the 24th, the judge was said to be on sick leave. The lawyers say in all the set dates where the ruling was not forthcoming, indications are that it was never prepared.
“One gets the impression that the court appears to be of the view that it owes the parties no explanation nor is it under any obligation to tender that explanation. The Judiciary, like all other institutions, we humbly submit, is accountable to the public it serves and in particular the litigants who appear before it seeking justice. The old adage that justice delayed is justice denied is apposite, and equally too, that justice is sweetest when freshest,” stated the lawyers.
“My Lord, we can only hope that your office will appeal to the Honourable Judge to render justice by delivering the ruling at the earliest opportune time without further delay,” the lawyers have pleaded. “My Lord as of the date of this letter the parties still await a ruling on a preliminary points which were raised in the urgent application on the 8th April 2011,” they further stated.
Mothobi is a former University of Botswana law lecturer. He was appointed to the bench in September last year.