Infotrac demands recusal of judges

Bame Piet
WANTED OUT: Infotrac says Justices Tau and Walia are conflicted

In the ongoing saga between Debswana Mining Company and surveillance company Infotrac (PTY) LTD, the latter has called for Judge President Tebogo Tau, Justices Dr Singh Walia, and Johan Froneman of the Court of Appeal to recuse themselves from the matter.

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The company argues that the judges should stay away from passing judgment this coming Friday.

The dispute emanates from a consultancy contract worth P110 million agreed between some management personnel of Debswana and Infotrac, which Debswana argues did not follow procurement processes.

The High Court has ruled in favour of Infotrac but Debswana has since approached the Court of Appeal seeking reversal of the High Court’s decision.

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Last week Infotrac launched an urgent application for the three Court of Appeal judges to recuse themselves and not to pass judgment as scheduled on Friday.

On the 19th July 2023, Infotrac launched a complaint against Justices Dr Walia and Tau for what he called bias in favour of Debswana and its legal representative John Carr-Harley.

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The company Director, Mompoloki Motshidi revealed that Dr Walia’s wife Theresa Walia is an employee of Armstrongs Attorneys where Carr-Hartley is a managing partner, and that she is his secretary and reports directly to him.

The complaint addressed to the Chief Justice, Terrence Rannowane and copied to the Law Society of Botswana, also stated that there was a possibility that the couple had discussed the matter during their interactions at home.

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The complaint also pointed to the fact that Justice Walia is a former employee of Armstrongs.

Meanwhile, when responding to the complaint on 24th July 2023, the Chief Justice said he was constrained to intervene.

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“As is clear from your letter, the matter is subjudice which prohibits any intervention as to do so might be interpreted as interference with ongoing proceedings before the Court of Appeal,” said Rannowane.

Nonetheless, InfoTrac argues that the entire panel should step aside and give way for a new panel of judges to preside over the matter.

“It is only proper for the entire panel of Honourable Judges of the Appeal who heard the Appeal on 10 July 2023, to recuse themselves from this appeal and order that it be heard by a different panel of judges. The remedy sought, if accepted will not be an admission of impropriety on their part, but simply a demonstration of their commitment to the protection of the right of litigants to have access to a Court of Appeal which is grounded on principles of fairness, and impartiality, which are the cornerstones of justice and the rules of law in a democratic society,” reads the court papers delivered at the High Court earlier last Monday morning.

InfoTrac has engaged attorney Tebogo Tladi of Jeremiah Tladi & Co. and wants the matter heard urgently.

Meanwhile, Debswana have indicated their intention to oppose the application.

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