- High Court registrar had disbarred Sheriff Manyapetsa from practice on ‘political’ grounds
- Court rules that Lotty Manyapetsa is not a publicofficer and should be allowed back into practice
The Deputy Mayor of the City of Gaborone, Lotty Manyapetsa, has won a case against the Registrar of the High Court in which he was disbarred from practising as a deputy sheriff following his naming as a specially nominated councillor and election as Deputy Mayor.
Following his nomination, the Registrar declined to renew his contract of practice, raising concerns that Manyapetsa’s political activism was likely to lead to concerns of conflict of interest.
The Department of Administration of Justice, the Registrar said, is apolitical and deputy sheriffs, as messengers of the court, are enjoined to represent the department’s ethos and principles. He added that conflict of interest was inherent in the two concurrent positions held by Manyapetsa.
The Registrar, who is the Sheriff, appoints deputy sheriffs. When he refused to renew Manyapetsa‘s contract, he said the contract of agency prohibited Manyapetsa from being an employee or to continue to be employed by another person.
However, the court agreed with Manyapetsa’s lawyer, Obonye Jonas, that Manyapetsa is not a public officer and that the Registrar had erred in making the decision to treat the matter that way.
In his ruling, the judge said there is no express or implied provision, guideline, policy or code of law that precludes a deputy sheriff, who is not a public officer, from holding or becoming a councillor or a deputy mayor. The only fathomable prohibition, he noted, pertains to public officers.
“The decision of the second respondent not to renew the applicant’s Contract of Agency and the subsequent removal of the applicant’s names from the roll of registered deputy sheriffs is reviewed and set aside,” said the judge.
“The 2nd respondent is directed to reinstate (the) applicant onto the roll of registered deputy sheriffs.”