FRANCISTOWN: Justice Professor Kholisani Solo has shot back at Botswana Public Officers Employees Union (BOPEU), for indirectly demanding that he recuse himself from the case the union sponsored, following his reported statements vowing allegiance to President Ian Khama.
The applicant in the matter is Levi Holonga who used to work as an airport operations officer while Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) and its director of airport operations Justice Masole are cited as the first and second respondents respectively. The union is funding Holonga’s litigation, through lawyer, Otto Itumeleng, while Thabiso Olatotse is the CAAB attorney.
In September, BOPEU condemned Solo after a leaked correspondence in which he withdrew his name from a petition against the Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo by 12 judges, while vowing his loyalty to President Ian Khama who he said “came to my rescue during a moment of despair”.
Yesterday, Solo came out guns blazing dismissing Itumeleng’s submission, saying the BOPEU appointed lawyer has failed to provide comprehensive heads of arguments and admissible documents to support the recusal application.
“If you become insolent to the court, I will ask the police officer there to lock you up for contempt of court. I cannot teach you what to file. I will recuse myself if there are other valid grounds other than what you had filed previously to recuse myself. Why would I listen to a matter in which I have an interest? You (sic) should have to show that to the court,” said Solo.
Solo then asked Itumeleng if he wanted the matter to be decided in terms of the law to which Itumeleng answered in the affirmative.
“I want you to show linkages between me and CAAB, BOPEU and others,” said Solo.
The judge said that he would make an order for counsel from the Attorney General, Oeme Moalosi to appear in the matter as amicus curiae (friend of the court) explaining, however, that this friend would not influence the court’s ultimate decision. Itumeleng has been given 14 days to file his heads of argument, while Moalosi will look at the recusal application ahead of another hearing on the matter set for January 16, 2016. “These applications for recusal of the judges are made from time to time but frivolous, irritant and vexatious applications are not expected of attorneys of law,” the judge said.
In his original application, Itumeleng had asked that the matter be stayed pending verification of the loyalty and apology allegations attributed to Solo, asking the court to grant them alternative relief.