High Court Judge, Zein Kebonang’s reputation will be on trial when the legal dispute pitting Bank of Botswana on the one hand and Kingdom Bank on the other that resumes in earnest at the High Court tomorrow (Monday).
The latest developments could not have come at a worse time for Botswana’s judiciary and indeed the legal fraternity.
Dubbed the trial of the decade, the dispute has shaken off the halo effect and decency that has always clothed Botswana’s judiciary and the financial sector.
It has also laid bare the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes within the legal fraternity.
The trial has at different steps led to some of the attorneys being accused of fraud, with pertinent questions raised about appearance to defend filed in the court papers by attorney Bokani Machinya of Collins & Newman.
As a result, Justice Kebonang at one found that there had indeed been fraud.
“Based on the uncontested evidence of the expert witness Mr Cloete who filed an affidavit on behalf of First Respondent [Kingdom Bank], the filing stamp of the Registrar and the receiving stamp of Michin & Kelly (Botswana) on the purported appearance to defend are not genuine and have been transposed from another document. Therefore the purported appearance to defend relied upon by the Applicant, which was neither served nor filed, is not valid in that it is not an authentic document,” reads Justice Kebonang’s order in part.
The presiding Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has not himself escaped unscathed.
The papers before the courts show that he has had his integrity and indeed propriety questioned by some of the combatants.
Insinuations have along the way been made in black and white that Justice Kebonang was dispensing justice without following the Rules of Court. This was after one of the litigants alleged that an order that Justice gave was delivered when they were themselves not present in court.
Glaringly accusatory to Justice Kebonang is part of an affidavit by Bank of Botswana Deputy Governor, Moses Pelaelo who implies that an order by obtained by Michin & Kelly from Justice Kebonang had been “irregularly obtained.”
When the case starts on Monday, Collins & Newman, acting for Bank of Botswana of Botswana will argue that the default judgment granted Kingdom Bank be rescinded.
Michin & Kelly, the attorneys acting for Kingdom Bank will argue for stay of the judgment.
The high profile case comes at a time when a number of High Court judges are suspending on allegations of ethical impropriety.