Acting CJ refuses to recuse himself

Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe
Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe

The Acting Chief Justice Godfrey Radijeng has refused to recuse himself from a matter in which Justice Gaopalelwe Ketlogetswe has dragged amongst others Chief justice Terrence Rannowane and President Mokgweetsi Masisi to court. Ketlogetswe had wanted Radijeng to recuse himself because the office in which he is acting on, (Chief Justice office) is implicated in the matter.

At the heart of the matter is accusations made by Ketlogetswe that the Chief Justice and the Minister for State President, Kabo Morwaeng of judicial interference in relation to ‘murder’ allegations against Lobatse legislator, Dr Thapelo Matsheka. Ketlogetswe made a series of accusations against the pair alleging they had tried to influence his decision regarding the case in which Matsheka was accused of kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old Lobatse boy Tlotso Karema for ritual purposes.

Now Ketlogetswe who faces disciplinary action has made an application to interdict Rannowane, Masisi and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from instituting disciplinary action against him in his ongoing dispute.

Early this week through his lawyers Ketlogetswe made an application seeking Radijeng to recuse himself citing that he (Radijeng) is currently Acting Chief Justice while the Chief Justice office is 3rd respondent in the matter.

Dismissing the application today, Radijeng said the recusal application was not launched in terms of the rules of the court regarding applications, that they be on affidavit disclosing facts that found the premise of the application. Radijeng also said there was no evidence adduced in the application for the recusal of the judge as none was led by way of affidavit or other lawful means to establish evidence.

In his order Radijeng said Boko’s view is unfounded and preposterous at the least. “I say this mindful that there is no evidence of record that the appointment to the acting appointment by the judge in this matter was premised on or is a favour to the judge or was financial reward by the third respondent as CJ. To suggest that the judge has bestowed with a reward would require cogent evidence to dislodge the presumption of impartiality,” he highlighted. Last year Ketlogetswe applied for an interim interdict to stop the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from hearing the matter in which he had reported Chief Justice (CJ), Terence Rannowane to President Mokgweetsi Masisi who then referred his (Ketlogetswe's) complaint to the JSC as he does not want the Commission to deal with his matter. Wednesday was set for the hearing of the Applicant's main application, but Ketlogetswe’s counsel Advocate Duma Boko presented submissions as to why he said he had a reasonable apprehension that Radijeng will not be impartial in the adjudication of his application.

Boko had argued that said the main application was filed on November 25, 2022 and that certain developments happened thereafter. He indicated that Chief Justice (CJ), Terence Rannowane brought an application to strike out averments and it was heard on December 12, 2022 with the ruling on December 15, 2022. Rannowane ended up winning the case in which he had filed an interlocutory application to strike out averments which it deemed ‘scandalous’ and had the potential to damage his image and that of the Judiciary. Ketlogetswe became aware that Radijeng had been appointed as Acting CJ for the period of December 15, 2022 to January 8, 2023. Therefore Boko in his submission pointed out in terms of the scheduling of the key occurrences of the main application being the hearing and the rendering of the judgment thereto these fell within the period Radijeng now held the acting CJ position. Boko said the averments ruling was also tainted by Radijeng being appointed as acting CJ. But in his judgment Dijeng says there is no proof that the court had set a date of the judgment in the main application. “To suggest that the rendering of the judgment fell within the period of the acting appointment is but fanciful thinking on the part of the applicant,” Radijeng further stated. Boko had also submitted that there was to be financial benefit accruing to Radijeng owing to his appointment as acting CJ. Boko presented that given a benefit in the form of remuneration owing to the acting CJ appointment existed and coupled with reputational enhancement to Radijeng in the midst of many judges who could have been appointed. Boko said this was a reward, a favour extended to Radijeng by Rannowane therefore it should disqualify a judge from presiding.

The matter continues on January 23 with a status hearing.

Editor's Comment
Doctor's orders can't be overemphasised

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