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Judge sues Kgathi for P10 million

Publishing Date : 08 October, 2018

Author : TEBOGO KGALEMANG

Gaborone High Court Judge Omphemetse Motumise has last month slapped the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi with a writ of summons for defamation in the sum of P10 million. Judge Motumise who was only appointed a judge last year October following a Court of Appeal judgment decry that he was defamed by Minister Kgathi during a press briefing last year September.


Kgathi stated during the press briefing that former President Ian Khama would uphold the court ruling, “despite the fact that the vetting process had found Motumise to be unsuitable for appointment to the position of a High Court judge.” It is this statement that Judge Motumise contends was made with intent to defame and with knowledge of wrongfulness on the part of the government officials who later made and published the statement.


“The said words, in the context, are wrongful, unlawful, malicious and defamatory of the plaintiff in that they were intended to be and were understood by readers to mean that the plaintiff is guilty of some dishonorable, unethical, improper, inappropriate or any adverse conduct which renders him unsuitable for High Judicial office,” states Motumise in his court papers.


Motumise wants P2, 5 million from each of the four State-owned media entities that carried the alleged defamatory statement being Radio Botswana, Botswana Television, Daily News and BWGovernment facebook page. The State has last week served Judge Motumise with a memorandum of appearance, that they were ready to defend the matter.


In their papers, Deputy Government Attorney Matlhogonolo Phuthego stated that Kgathi admits that he made and uttered the statement, as referred to in Motumise’s claim but denied defamatory. “It is denied that the words and or statement were defamatory of the plaintiff. It is denied that, reasonably, the statement could have been understood to mean what Motumise alleges it mean and was intended to mean.”


“The statement was true, substantially true, and, in any event, the statement was made in the public interest, the statement constituted a fair comment.” The background of the case is that, in 2015 the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) “advised” Khama to appoint Motumise in accordance with Section 96 (2) of the Constitution of Botswana.


Khama declined to act in accordance with the “advice” and litigation ensued at the High Court in May 2015. The litigation which was brought by Law Society of Botswana and Motumise was against JSC and former President Khama. It was then that in April 2017, the Court of Appeal set aside Khama’s refusal to appoint Motumise.

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