- Ungainly exchange erupts between Justice Walia and defence attorney Ngakaagae as parties make their final push
The Court of appeal (COA) this week heard arguments from John Carr-Hartley of Armstrong Attorneys and Kgosi Ngakaagae in a case in which Carr-Hartley asked the panel of judges to overturn Justice Abednego Tafa’s June 2022 High Court judgement for mining giant Debswana to pay intelligence company Infotrac (Pty) Ltd P110 million plus 10 percent interest for its contractual role in ensuring the appointment of Albert Milton as the Managing Director of Debswana.
In his arguments, Carr-Hartley said there was “no evidence to support claims raised by Infotrac”. Not so, Ngakaagae returned, saying “in so far as court evidence was concerned, no Debswana witness has refuted or denied that there was an agreement between Debswana and his client”.
However, tension erupted between Justice Singh Walia and attorney Ngakaagae when Justice Walia expressed doubt about Ngakaagae’s ability to successfully navigate his way around a trap that the judge had set for him.
Justice Walia had begun by questioning Ngakaagae, pointing to what he called an inconsistency in his arguments and seeking further clarification. However, the judge quickly stated that he could not see how Ngakaagae would satisfactorily escape the challenge he had presented.
Whereupon Ngakaagae expressed his concerns, wondering about the purpose of his presence in the courtroom if he was going to be disqualified from answering or if his responses would be dismissed by the judge even before he spoke.
“My Lord, I am going to have problems if you are going to ask me questions and then interject before I even answer, saying you don’t see how I will escape or navigate myself out,” he protested.
“What then is the point of me being here when I am not even allowed to answer questions posed by you?”
Justice Walia remained silent as Ngakaagae continued to point out what he called the unfairness of the judge asking him questions and answering them before giving him an opportunity to respond.
Judge President Tebogo Tau had to break the ungainly dialogue, assuring attorney Ngakaagae that he could proceed to answer the questions posed to him. “That has been noted, Mr Ngakaagae. You may proceed, please proceed.”
Judgement in this matter will be delivered on 4 August 2023.