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Suspended Judges face Tribunal

In a highly anticipated judgement High Court Justice T. Tau today ruled that the four suspended High Court Judges Oagile Dingake, Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Ranier Busang had failed to show they had a prima facie right to a hearing prior to a suspension by President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama pending an inquiry by a Tribunal into allegations of misbehavior.

“From reasons given above, in my view, it could not have been the intention of the framers of the constitution that the President removes the judges without first referring the issue which he prima facie believe to constitute misconduct without first appointing a Tribunal consisting of judges to investigate such allegations. Those allegations should first be investigated before a decision to remove judges is taken,” said Tau, in delivering judgement at the Lobatse High Court today.

She said, “In interpreting the relevant constitutional provisions, it is important to remember that the provisions should be interpreted in a way which could not lead to absurdity. My view is that the intention of the framers of the constitution is for the President to refer the allegations to the Tribunal to investigate and to advise him accordingly. The President therefore in appointing the Tribunal and subsequently suspending the Applicants acted in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. He did not interfere with judicial independence.”

According to Tau a Judge remains a Judge until he or she resigns or retires or is removed from office in accordance with the provisions of section 97.

Tau stressed that the Tribunal appointed by the President to investigate the question of a judge’s removal from office consists of former judges and it is significant that their recommendation is binding on the President.

“I am also of the view that given that the Applicant’s reputation has already been somewhat tarnished by wide publication the only way to salvage their reputation is for them to successfully, refute the allegations before the Tribunal,” said Tau.

The case was dismissed with costs, including costs of two counsel.

 

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