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Last Updated
Tuesday 11 December 2018, 14:21 pm.
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Icons of Botswana

Maruping Dibotelo- a law veteran
By Staff Writer Tue 11 Dec 2018, 16:46 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Icons of Botswana








Batswana and foreigners alike have always praised Botswana for its peace and social stability. Over the years, our legal system has been able to deliver its services to Batswana and this is at the hands of people such as Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo. Dibotelo is a good example of a man with substance and a delightful vision for the legal system of Botswana. He took over from Julian Nganunu as Chief Justice in February 2010.

Conversing with Dibotelo was pleasant because I extracted the insights of a humble and calm man who heads our judiciary. He was born on October 13, 1947 in Thamaga. He is married with five children - two sons and three daughters, who have now all completed school. Gorata Dibotelo, who is the youngest, has followed in her father's footsteps by pursuing law.

Dibotelo attended his primary school at Thamaga Western School from 1957 to 1964, then went on to Kgari Sechele Secondary School from 1965 to 1967. He completed secondary Gaborone Secondary School between 1968 and 1969.

He attended the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS) from 1970 to 1975, where he studied Bachelor of Laws (LLB). In obtaining his LLB degree he studied and passed courses such as Criminal Law, Law of Contract and Delict, Government and Administration, Customary Law, Law of Property, Evidence and Procurement, Sociology, Criminology, International Law and Organisations, English Language and Literature and Law of the Sea etc.

When entering the corporate world Dibotelo was admitted as Attorney of the High Court of Botswana on June 17, 1977. On October 24, he was admitted and enrolled as a Conveyancer. He then joined Botswana government service as State Counsel in June 1975 in the Attorney General's Chambers and later promoted to senior state counsel and at the time of resignation in October he was the Principal State Counsel in charge of the Lands Division of the Attorney General's Chambers. From November 1981 to June 1982 he was employed by Motsemme & Partners as a professional assistant.

In June 1982 he left Motsemme & Partners and set up his own styled Dibotelo & Company, Attorneys & Conveyancers and in November 1991 formed a partnership with M.S. Gaongalelwe known as Dibotelo, Gaongalelwe & Company, Attorneys, and Notaries & Conveyancers. Through his hard work and consistence delivery it is not surprising that he acted as High Court judge from September from 1996 to December 1996 during the High Court Judges' absence. In April 1997 he joined the Administration of Justice as a High Court judge until January 31, 2010. On February 1, 2010 Dibotelo was appointed Chief Justice after serving on the High Court bench for 12 years 10 months. This shows his love and dedication for the judiciary.

In 1976, he was a member of Botswana Delegation to the United Nations Annual General Assembly in New York. In 1980 was a member of a Government Committee appointed to investigate problems of Tribal Land Boards. In 1991 was a member of the Commission of Enquiry appointed to investigate land problems in Mogoditshane and other peri-urban areas whose report, known as Report of the Kgabo Commission, was later set aside and nullified

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by the High Court. Dibotelo was chairman of the 2002 Delimitation Commission appointed in terms of section 64(1) of the Constitution of Botswana to delimit constituencies after Parliament altered the seats of Elected Members of the National Assembly from 40 to 57. Dibotelo was also chairman of the 2007 Presidential Commission on the salaries, conditions of service and other entitlements for the President, Vice President, The Speaker, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Deputy Speaker, Members of Parliament. In 2009 Dibotelo was awarded the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service. Dibotelo is also the chairman of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

During his term in office as the Chief Justice, Dibotelo said he wants to ensure that the judiciary in this country is the best; ensuring that they effectively deliver their services to the people of Botswana diligently. "This system is an arm of government which plays a very important role in the running of the country through the practice and maintenance of justice and we strongly believe in the Rule of Law," he said. Dibotelo is a member of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA). For relaxation, he watches football and enjoys listening to Radio Botswana (RB1) programs such as Dipina le Maboko and Dikhwaere, as well as old school music.

Dibotelo said that being the Chief Justice is an achievement and emphasised that it is a demanding responsibility that he is honoured to uphold, as he is committed to serving his country to his best ability. He added that it is important for Batswana to understand, respect and familiarise themselves with the proceedings of the system as well as the court.

"The Chief Justice is the head of the judiciary which is an arm of government. Whenever there is turbulence in the country the judiciary stabilises it", he said with a straight face. When expressing his love for what he does and how it makes him happy for Batswana to see and appreciate the work coming out the judiciary, Dibotelo said, "I love the legal profession, I have devoted my time ever since I became the Chief Justice to improve the system and make it more and more relevant to the people of Botswana". Dibotelo also mentioned that from a young age, he appreciated law, so it was a given that he would pursue this profession. 

One of Dibotelo's professional dreams is for the legal system and the government of Botswana to make it possible for people to access the courts from  anywhere around the country. "I want to set up Magistrate Courts in Shakawe, Kang, Nata and Bobonong before the end of next year," he said.

In conclusion, he expressed satisfaction with the progress of the legal system of Botswana and said he will still work hard to improve it because he wants it to be a world leader. "Other countries from Africa and beyond have commended the judiciary in Botswana and they have visited our country to benchmark on the system, in order to improve theirs. We are the envy of many countries; we rank 10-11 among the best in the world and we aim to be the world leader," he said.

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