Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Judiciary at work to clear Mothobi’s backlog of judgements

The Administration of Justice (AoJ) has begun the process to clean up the mess left by retired judge, Michael Mothobi.


The clean-up follows shocking revelations that the former High Court judge left a backlog of no less than 100 unfinished cases at the time of his exit from the bench earlier this year.


At least 10 of Mothobi’s pending judgements, some of which cases dating as back as 2015, were handed down on Friday December 3 2021 by judges Bugalo Maripe (2) and Godfrey Nthomiwa (8). A dozen attorneys converged at Court 4 (Gaborone High Court) this morning where Nthomiwa rushed through the judgements saying reasons would be collected at a later stage.


Sunday Standard understands there are many more Mothobi judgments to be delivered in due course.


The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) has been up in arms recently following an announcement by the Judicial Services Commision (JSC) that all cases pending before Mothobi would start de novo (afresh).


LSB said the inconvenience to litigants brought about by the retirement of Mothobi would have been avoided if the numerous complaints raised against him had been given the attention they deserved.


Complaints against Mothobi, who left the bench in August this year, date back many years with recently retired Court of Appeal President Ian Kirby expressing his frustrations against Mothobi’s incompetence in 2014. Kirby Lambasted Mothobi for delays in delivering judgments.


Passing judgment on an appeal in a divorce case Justice Kirby complained that Justice Mothobi’s delay in delivering judgments risked eroding the public confidence in the courts. It had emerged that Justice Mothobi had issued an order to make the provisional liquidation of the estranged couple’s company final and for two years sat on the reasons of his order, making it difficult for the appellant to lodge an appeal.


Justice Kirby pointed out that two years after the issue of the order and apparently after the intervention of the Chief Justice Mothobi finally handed down his reasons for making the provisional liquidation of the company final.


Kirby called such delays “unacceptable, extremely prejudicial to litigants and undermine the constitutional imperative that cases are to be heard with reasonable expedition.” He said such delays were inconsistent with the values expected of the office of the judge of Botswana.


“They tend to diminish public confidence in the ability of our courts to deliver justice speedily. Unfortunately this is not the first time that this court has had cause to draw attention to lapses of this kind.”


It was not the first time Mothobi had been singled out by the CoA for delays in delivering judgments. Also in 2014 Justice Isaac Lesetedi called for administrative action against Mothobi for delays in delivering judgements.


This followed a matter in which Justice Mothobi sat on a case for more than two years without delivering judgement and took about 15 months to give reasons for an order he had issued in the same case.


LSB last month complained in a letter to Chief justice Terrence Rannowane that the JSC has been protecting the underperforming judge. Instead of taking action against Mothobi, the JSC is believed to have given him the option to jump, escaping possible disciplinary action. All other cases already under Mothobi at the time of his retirement are to start from the beginning.

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