Judges say Dibotelo promised that lightning will soon strike
The legal tussle between the Chief Justice, the State President and the suspended four Judges of the Lobatse High court promises to send skeletons tumbling from closets if what has already been filed before court is anything to go by.
A petition which was signed by twelve judges and presented to the Judicial Service Commission recently is among the filed documents, which makes up part of the Judges’ evidence in the matter.
In the petition the Judges paint a picture of the Chief Justice, Maruping Dibotelo as a man who cannot trust people he work with because he fears they could be bewitching him.
“His intense belief in witchcraft disables him from relating with judges and members of staff without suspicion. He persistently says that his traditional doctor informs him that judges and members of staff are bewitching him and that this coming rainy season lightning will strike with catastrophic effect,” wrote the Judges.
Among those who signed the petition are the suspended four of Key Dingake, Mercy Garekwe, Modiri Letsididi and Ranier Busang. Other Judges who signed the petition include, Tshepo Motswagole, Michael Leburu, Lot Moroka, Godfrey Nthomiwa, K. Solo, Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe, Barnabas Nyamadzabo and Bengbame Sechele.
The Judges blame Dibotelo for victimising the Judges and that he is seeking to destroy the careers of the judges he had suspended because he got intimidated by their comments during a recent Judiciary meeting where the State President was present.
In the first week of July 2015, the Judiciary held its annual judicial conference at Mahalapye, where the main theme was the resourcing of the judiciary. The conference according to the petition recognised that the judiciary as a learning organisation is in need of resources for continuous training of judicial officers, support staff and its key stake holders and accordingly resolved that the leadership of the organisation should seek resources for training.
The chief Justice was allegedly aggrieved by the resolution taken by the conference on the issue of training and the whole night of Friday he was continuously renting about it.
“On the morning of 1st August 2015 at breakfast, the chief Justice was sitting amongst some Judges, Registrars and administrative staff and continued with his training complaint, and then accused some of the Judges who were vocal about the training issue that they have been receiving housing allowance when they were not entitled to, and that he will use the issue of the housing allowance to destroy their careers,” the petition further reads.
Allegedly the Chief Justice further threatened that he will ensure that they will never become Chief Justices of the Republic of Botswana on the basis that they are not fit and proper.
“He also threatened to publish the issue of the housing allowance in the newspapers so as to destroy careers,” the petition further reads.
In the cause of that tirade Dibotelo allegedly instructed the Registrar of the High Court of Botswana, Michael Motlhabi to submit the list of those Judges first thing Monday morning.
“Following his threat to destroy careers, on the 11th August 2015, the four judges were given the “career destroying letters,” apparently issued at the instance of the JSC,” the petition added.
The four Judges were suspended after the Chief Justice reported them to the police for having received housing allowances which they were not entitled to.
However the Judges admitted to have received the money albeit unaware and promised to repay the government.
In support of their case is the former Registrar of the High Court, Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa who has filed confirmatory affidavit and revealed that it was not unusual for government employees to be overpaid salaries and allowances.
“In every year the Public Accounts Committee reports instances of overpayments generally in each government department and records action taken. These actions hardly ever include criminal sanction, let alone disciplinary sanction of the accounting officer responsible,” Nthomiwa explained.
During Nthomiwa’s tenure as registrar of the High court, he was responsible for the efficient running of the administration of Justice and in particular the judiciary and their welfare including accommodation.
“I can confirm that the situation of Government accommodation is not unique to the four applicants herein. It has happened to other judges during my tenure and the way it was handled was in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Public Finance Management Act. No one was sanctioned or reported to the police for this,” Nthomiwa will bear witness on behalf of the judges.
The petition which Nthomiwa also signed suggests that the differential treatment with which the current matter of housing allowance has been handled is confirmation enough of the Honourable Justice’s agenda to destroy careers of some judges.
“Referring such an internal administrative issue first to the Judicial Service Commission and then to the police before he could consult with the affected Judges still proves his intent to destroy careers of some judges. The Honourable Justice pronounced his intent to destroy careers long before he conveniently convened the judicial Service Commission to rubber stamp his agenda to destroy careers. We believe had the Honourable Justice divulged his intention to destroy careers to the Judicial Service Commission, they would not have rubber stamped his clearly malicious agenda,” further reads the petition.
The Judges further added that the already mentioned allegations are only tip of the iceberg as there are other matters not stated because of “their extreme sensitivity.”
Dibotelo has however written back to the Judges, refuted the allegations and threatened he would be considering legal options in this regard.
“Each of the signatories including yourself has made highly defamatory statements about me which have been published to the other Judges who did not sign the letter,” the Chief Justice issued the warning.
The Judges had accused the Chief Justice of being a racist and tribalist. In the petition they mentioned that he persistently raise objections about the Court of Appeal being led by a white man in Ian Kirby and that “at the height of Judge’s trouble with the law, he (Chief Justice) made disparaging remarks about the Judge’s ethnicity as a predisposition for his troubles.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.