Veteran judges feel overlooked, protest Garekwe’s promotion
OP orders DPP to appeal recent high profile cases
Plans to crackdown on anti-Executive judges underway – claim
The recent promotion and appointment of the High Court Judge Mercy Garekwe, to the Court of Appeal (CoA) by President Mokgweetsi Masisi has been met by a rebellion from aggrieved senior judges who feel overlooked for elevation, The Patriot on Sunday has learnt.
Justice Garekwe was recently elevated to the CoA as Justice of Appeal, in a move which has now divided the judiciary. The Patriot on Sunday is reliably informed that not all is well within the Administration of Justice (AoJ) as some of the veteran judges are crying foul that they have been overlooked in preference of Justice Garekwe. Sources reveal that Garekwe’s appointment came barely after Masisi has shown disappointment over the series of court loses that the government endured hence embarrassment to the state. “Garekwe’s appointment to the Court of Appeal as Justice of Appeal has been met with a great concern, skepticism. The president in appointing her over some of seniors could be because it was looking for its suitable candidate as majority of judges are considered to be anti-state when dealing with cases of recent. There is a lot of discontentment inside judicial system,” said a source.
It is said that some of the judges who are her seniors are demanding answers from Masisi as they feel unwanted and that their relations with Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane are at not cordial at all.
“These are the respected and impartial senior judges. To justify her promotion, Masisi is said to have played the gender card, which has never been a factor in appointing judges, as seniority and meritocracy are. Masisi has instructed the DPP to appeal all cases they have lost even though he was made aware and advised that government has slim chances to win either. The Judiciary is polarized,” said the source.
This publication recently turned up information that the new judges that will be recruited will be pro- government but must be recommended to Masisi for appointment by a Judicial Commission Service.
The development by Government to add more judges according to informers is influenced by a plot to frustrate some of the judges who are said to be not in good books of Office of the President (OP).
That being the case, it is said the judges who deserves the promotions but are not in the favor of the Chief Justice and the appointing authority (Masisi) will be frustrated by not being elevated.
The Patriot on Sunday also understands that the judges who feel targeted have appealed to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) opposing plans to have more judges hired, intimating the move is intended to dilute or politicize the judicial system, but their request has fell to a deaf ear. Allegations are that the Chief Justice has been asked to request for more posts for judges. “The number of the High Court experienced judges are targeted as the government’s feeling is that some of the rulings made against it based on their close relationship with some of outside people who served in government. More judges will struggle to get promotions,” confided a source.
Efforts to contact Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Kagiso Mmusi proved futile on Friday at press time.
Government recently suffered consecutive defeats in the courts of law in cases such as that involving Khama, who sued the Office of the President over refusal to give him access to government modes of transport. The state last month went through baptism of fire when it lost a number of high profile cases. The high profile cases include that of quashing of the charges laid against former DISS Agent Welheminah Maswabi codenamed Butterfly, by Gaborone High Court Judge Dr Zein Kebonang.
Justice Kebonang ruled that the state through the DPP, DIS, and DCEC fabricated and manipulated the evidence, framed and further falsely implicated the former DIS agent, Maswabi on the matter. “The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has fabricated corruption by fabricating evidence against an innocent citizen. The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) is a very rogue institution and it must be dismantled because it has lost its integrity. All the heads of this institutions including that of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) must roll,” he said.
Another Gaborone High Court Judge, Justice Gabriel Komboni, has recently ruled that the state should refunds Khama for all the costs he incurred in his trip to meet the Dalai Lama in India in 2019. Komboni declared it was unlawful for president Masisi cited in the matter as a second respondent to have refused to avail Khama the benefit of air travel during his travel to India from 8 to 12 March 2019.