AoJ is broke- Chief Justice

Bame Piet
WE'RE BROKE: Terrence Rannowane (CJ)

Chief Justice, Terrence Rannowane, has confirmed that the Judiciary is in a financial crisis and unable to run the courts efficiently, something which has a serious bearing on delivery of justice, hence the theme “An under resourced Judiciary – an impediment to Justice”.

“Lack of sufficient funding hampers delivery of justice and if truth is to be told, we have in fact reached a point of crisis. We are in short, on a precarious financial footing. As a result of inadequate funding, we have since August 2022 to date, not been able to pay pro-deo fees, pay witnesses, effect transfers of officers or conduct murder trials or take justice to the people by conducting circuit court,” said Rannowane when officially opening the legal year on Tuesday.

The situation is so bad that even production of copies is regarded as luxury, while structural maintenance and air conditioning of the courts are not even a consideration.

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However, the Chief Justice said there had been improvement in disposal of cases prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, but the backlog has resurfaced post the pandemic.

He said there are unwarranted attacks on the judiciary by social media fake individuals under false guise of whistle blowing targeted at judges of both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

He said ongoing cases against the Judiciary itself, and the President are a testimony of a robust legal system.

“They must be viewed in the context of our robust legal system and processes, which guarantee each one of us, the right to recourse and access to our courts, their station in life notwithstanding. They also attest to the fact that as a mature and well-established democracy, citizens are conscious of their rights and the fact that in Botswana anybody can sue or be sued, regardless of his or her public standing”.

However, the Chairman of the Law Society of Botswana Osego Garebamono said allegations of judicial interference by members of the executive should be addressed swiftly as they are a threat to democracy.

“The society and indeed Batswana in general are deeply concerned at the deteriorating state of our judiciary,” he said citing the matter in which Judge Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe is suing the President, the Judicial Service Commission, and the Chief Justice.

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He said the judiciary must put in place clear procedures and conditions governing promotions, transfers and disciplinary processes to avoid manipulation of judges and abuse of the system to punish ‘rebels’ or reward ‘unmerited behaviour’.

He said the current situation demonstrates that there is need for more accountability and oversight to gain public confidence.

“We must always remember that the judiciary’s power in a democracy does not lie with a police force or army. The power of the judiciary lies in its integrity, its probity and the supremacy of its example,” Garebamono said.

LSB condemned Section 8(1) (d) of the Legal Practitioners Act of 2022 as unconstitutional since it prohibits anybody who was previously investigated by the Financial Intelligence Agency from legal practice.


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