IEC wants Ketlogetswe out of the picture

Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

After losing twice against the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) wants Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe to recuse himself in another case involving empanelling of justices. Ketlogetswe handed the UDC two temporary victories against IEC in a matter concerning the observation of the voter’s registration.

UDC recently rushed to court seeking the latter to issue an interim interdict against the decision of Chief Justice (CJ) Terrence Rannowane to empanel three justices to hear its interlocutory application.

On November 10 Rannowane wrote a letter to UDC indicating that he had empanelled a bench of three judges to hear the latter’s main application in a case in which the UDC wants to observe the voters’ registration period. The registration has since been suspended indefinitely.

While it was expected that Ketlogetswe would hear the empanelling of judges matter, the IEC has now made an urgent application before the High Court seeking an order directing Ketlogetswe to recuse himself from hearing the case citing that the latter has an interest in the matter. In their court papers, IEC secretary, Jeff Siamisang indicated that the commission does not make the application lightly and that it is compelled to do so to safeguard its constitutionality entrenched rights.

He emphasised that the application is not intended nor should it be regarded as a personal affront on Ketlogetswe.

“The constitution affords every litigant the right to have their matter heard fairly. The right denotes that a litigant should not have his or her matter heard by a judge who has an interest in the matter. The judge must be impartial and independent. The right denotes further that the judge must not only be done but must be seen to be done. With this in mind, the application has been made,” Siamisang noted.

He said the IEC attorneys had delivered a letter to Ketlogetswe asking him to recuse himself from hearing the matter. In the letter, Siamisang said they had indicated to Ketlogetswe that he was conflicted because as one of the judges empanelled, he could not determine whether prima facie or final, as to whether or not the two other judges were regularly and lawfully empanelled. Siamisang said Ketlogetswe was not prepared to recuse himself based on the letter and it was against that backdrop that the current application has been filed.

In terms of the urgency of the application, IEC reasoned that every application that has been filed under the current case number to date has been filed as an urgent application therefore it feels that this one is also urgent.

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