Chief Justice (CJ) Maruping Dibotelo is on a warpath again. Mmegi is informed that the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Michael Motlhabi, has on the instructions of the JSC written to four other Judges who two years ago signed a petition against Dibotelo to apologise.
The JSC, chaired by Dibotelo, sat last week and this week Motlhabi served Justices Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe, Lot Moroka, Godfrey Nthomiwa and Tshepo Motswagole with notices to apologise for the petition.
JSC sources claim that the decision to force the four Judges to apologise to Dibotelo was unanimous as they felt the issue was water under the bridge. In March this year, President Ian Khama lifted the suspension of the four Judges and disbanded a Tribunal that was appointed to enquire into their conduct. On September 1, 2015, Khama suspended four Judges, Key Dingake, Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Ranier Busang for alleged misconduct after it was found that they were paid undue housing allowances.
The four had been at loggerheads with Dibotelo, who had reported them to the police to investigate them for earning the housing allowances despite being accommodated in Government houses.
After Dibotelo reported the quartet to the police for investigation, 12 Judges wrote to the JSC to start impeachment proceedings against the CJ. The petitioners accused Dibotelo of being hell-bent on destroying some of his colleagues’ careers. Subsequent to suspending the Judges, acting in accordance with Section 97 of the Constitution of Botswana, Khama
It later emerged three of the 12 petitioners have since withdrawn from the Judges’ petition. These were Justices, Kholisani Solo, Barnabas Nyamadzabo and Bengbame Sechele.
Their colleague, Justice Michael Leburu reportedly made a verbal apology to Dibotelo, joining three of his peers who made similar concessions after the famous blow-up in the Judiciary in 2015.
Leburu was said to have told Dibotelo that he was very sorry to have caused the CJ “misery and humiliation” by co-signing the petition that spoke ill of the CJ. In an answering affidavit filed in December 2016, Dibotelo also disclosed that Leburu had apologised to him verbally.
In response to the allegations, Motlhabi invoked his infamous response to JSC issues: “The deliberations of the Judicial Service Commission are private and confidential, they are not for public consumption hence, I am constrained from responding to issues raise in your letter”.