A decision by High Court judge Tshepo Motswagole to sue Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo is expected to plunge the country’s judiciary into a crisis.
Weeks after the country’s judiciary was thrown into turmoil, Botswana may have to endure another taste of the politics of the judiciary after Justice Motswagole decided to sue the Chief Justice despite his public apology.
Motswagole has instructed Monthe Marumo and Company who have already slapped the Chief Justice with a notice informing him that their squabble will be settled in court.
The Law Firm Monthe Marumo and Company and are expected to file summons soon. It is not so much about how much millions Motswagole is demanding but as to which court will hear the matter.
The politics of the bench might just spiral out of control as Motswagole’s lawyers file the case.
More questions linger ahead of the filing of the lawsuit.
Will the case be filed in Lobatse? where the saga over forum shopping first erupted?If indeed it is filed in Lobatse, which judge among those that did not take kindly to Dibotelo’s remarks will the computer pick for the case. Will it be Lot Moroka, Mercy Garekwe, Godfrey Nthomiwa or Tebogo Tau among the Lobatse High Court judges that had taken exception to Dibotelo’s barrage over forum shopping and possible collusion between some judges, court staff and lawyers who prefer certain judges as opposed to others?
Or will the case be filed in Dibotelo’s own backyard? That is the Gaborone High Court division where the Chief Justice is surrounded by judges he holds in high regard. Will the judges of the High Court sit to hear a matter filed by a colleague against another senior colleague? Can the judges be able see the Chief Justice who is the judiciary’s administrative head as an ordinary litigant? Will any of the High Court judges push Motswagole and Dibotelo back and forth during the judicial case management or the case will be one of epic preferential treatment?
This is a classic case that might require the appointment of a judge from outside Botswana to adjudicate over the matter.
Earlier this year, in a strongly worded circular addressed to the Attorney General and legal practitioners, Dibotelo insinuated that some of his colleagues could be benefiting from underhanded dealings.
The Chief Justice prayed that “God forbid that those Judges who are said to be sympathetic to the cases of attorneys involved in such sordid practices do not get any benefit or greasing of their hands.”
To curb what he termed forum shopping and registration of originating process, Dibotelo said the practice by attorneys of filing cases in two different courts with the motive of the registration process picking up a judge favourable or sympathetic to their case will be a thing of the past.
He said such attorneys lodge copies of the same matter in Gaborone and Lobatse courts for registration with the motive of the registration process picking up a judge favourable or sympathetic to their case.