On 8th June, The Telegraph published a front page article under the headline “Union accuses appeals court of pursuing a political agenda.” In it the writer quoted from a letter said to have been written by the Attorney for BOFEPUSU to the Registrar of the Court of Appeal in which he accuses the Registrar of “misplaced zeal in trying to have the matter disposed of expeditiously” and challenges his motives. He also avers that it is only the High Court Registrar who has the power to convene meetings to settle appeal records and to set security costs.
For the record, the correct position is as follows:
The High Court Registrar presently doubles as Registrar of the Court of Appeal and has for some years delegated that function to one of his deputies ,Mr Motlhabi as authorized by the Act
After the BOFEPUSU appeal was lodged at the High Court, it was brought to him with a request from the Respondent’s Attorneys that it was urgent and should be processed in time for the next session of the court. He considered this request ,as the strike was affecting the whole country, and formed the view that it was in the public interest that the Appeal be fast tracked.
That is why he took steps to summon the parties as early as possible to settle the record and set security.
The Justice of Appeal play no part in these preliminary procedures which are purely administrative, so the suggestion that the court may be pursuing a political agenda is mischievous and entirely without foundation.
The lawyers representing the Union failed to attend the meeting called to settle the record on short notice, and accordingly it has not been possible to list the appeal for the July 2011 session of the court.
It is regrettable that the publication was effected without seeking the Registrar’s comments, and before it had even been received by the addressee.Further, the letter said to have written by Attorney Itumeleng and “leaked” to The Telegraph is ill-informed, disrespectful and bordering on contempt of the highest court in the land. This is not behavior expected of members of the legal profession, nor is expected that letters and notices of appeal addressed to the court should be published in the press before being received by the addressee, as in this case.
A copy of this response is being forwarded to the Law Society of Botswana.
(Registrar and Master of the High Court)