Thursday, October 28, 2021

‘I hope your Lordship hasn’t judged the matter’

As he listened to an exchange between Justice Dr. Zein Kebonang and Busang Manewe, Gabriel Komboni would have been getting anxious about the amiable tone of the exchange.

Manewe is representing fellow attorney Tebogo Sebego whom the Law Society of Botswana found guilty of professional misconduct two years ago. Dissatisfied with the service they got Sebego, a Gaborone couple, Mike and Agnes Brook, reported Sebego to the Society which found him guilty of professional misconduct. The lawyer wants the High Court to overturn such verdict and the Society has engaged Komboni to preserve it. Applying its interpretation of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Society instituted disciplinary proceedings against Sebego. The proceedings didn’t include hearings something Kebonang said was odd considering that those who are subjected to these proceedings can be disbarred or suspended. Manewe agreed with this sentiment, recasting it in a different set of words as he expressed his agreement. A few other exchanges of similar nature seem to have made Komboni uneasy and taking the floor after a length presentation by Manewe, revealed his private thoughts. He said that he had listened to the “many interventions” by Kebonang and hoped that “his lordship hasn’t judged the matter based on what I heard.”

To that the judge said that he was merely posing “the same questions that I will put to you.” Interestingly, some of those questions also got Komboni to establish common ground with Kebonang on some issues. The lawyer responded with “Yes my Lord”, “Yes”, “Exactly” and a variety of other short acquiescent declarations.

Judging the matter will come on August 1 when the court resumes after the traditional July recess. Outside the court process, the Brooks ÔÇô who attended court on Thursday, seem determined to pursue the matter to its finality. Last year, The Telegraph reported that Agnes Brook had reported the case to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime.

The LSB ruling on the Brooks case was the second professional misconduct charge that Sebego faced in 2014. Six months earlier, he had been involved in another case relating to the sale of a house in Ramotswa. The complainant, Kgosiyang Kalane, was displeased with the manner in which Sebego sold the house which he co-owned with his ex-wife. The couple was divorcing and in his ruling, the late Justice Moatlhodi Marumo said that the house should be put in the market and sold at the best possible price and that the net proceeds be shared equally between the parties. Against Kalane’s wishes, the house was sold for P70 000 to a woman called Harriet Isaacs. Kalane complained to the Law Society which, in activating its disciplinary process, wrote Sebego asking him to respond to charges levelled against him. In a ruling written by Kabo Leinaeng and assented to by Abdool Khan and Binta Tobedza, Sebego was fined P3000 for failing to respond on time and the same amount for failure to give proper attention to the affairs of a client. The ruling advised Kalane “to approach the court in relation to the sale of his house without him agreeing to the price of such sale.”

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