FRANCISTOWN: Some attorneys are unhappy about disrespect for time among magistrates.
the attorneys have claim. Commenting yesterday, the Regional Magistrate, Terrence Rannowane, disputed the allegations. Rannowane said court should sit at 0830hrs.
"Court sitting does not necessarily mean going for open court. Rannowane supervises magistrates in the region.
"The court session doesn't only mean criminal court but it also includes civil matters. If the magistrate does not sit for the open court at 0830hrs he or she would be dealing with civil matters in his or her chambers. They usually start dealing with those civil matters as early as 0730hrs," said Rannowane.
His advice was that if somebody believes that the magistrate is not punctual, he or she should be free to report the magistrate to his office.
One of the private attorneys, Morgan Moseki of MCM Moseki Attorneys told Monitor that he did not want to be seen to be attacking the magistrates.
He also said that when he started appearing before the magistrates, he made it known that punctuality was important because the magistrates are civil servants.
"If the time set down was 0800hrs, the attorneys and litigants would be expected at court before that time. You get there and sit down and you never know when the magistrates' court begins," said Moseki, a former Assistant and Master of the High Court in Francistown.
He gave the example of the High Court session that started at 0930hours. "The judge would be there at 0930hours and if he or she is late it should be a negligible five minutes. He would always apologise for lateness.
"The parties would know why the judge has delayed. Magistrates have a tendency of not apologising after turning up late. We live in the 21st century and I don't have to wait for anyone except Jesus Christ," emphasised Moseki.
Moseki complained that at the magistrates' court both prosecutors and the magistrates hold the private attorneys at ransom.
For instance, he explained that if the prosecutor did not arrive the court would not begin. If the same situation was reversed, and the defence counsel was not around, the court session would begin.
Moseki suggests that 0930hrs is the best time for the court to resume. A private attorney echoed Moseki's sentiments and revealed that since magistrates are civil servants, they must know better about public sector reforms like the Performance Management System (PMS).
"It is very unfair to wait for somebody doing private calls during working hours. After conducting their private business, they expect everybody to be there and they wouldn't apologise for late coming," he complained. He also said most of the time it is common to hear court interpreters shamelessly explaining that their bosses were still drinking tea or talking on the phone.
Another prominent private attorney, Phadza Kgalemang of Kgalemang, Sechele and Associates says that during his days of court appearances before the magistrate, he urged the magistrates to start on time. He said he last appeared before a magistrate in 2005.
"I don't go there that much. I never give people time to waste," Kgalemang pointed out.