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Suspended judges return to work

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LAWRENCE SERETSE

In April 2017 President Ian Khama lifted the suspension of the four Justices, Key Dingake, Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Ranier Busang following their suspension due to the Petition they filed against the Chief Justice The judges have now been advised that they will resume work in January 2018,, The Botswana Gazette can confirm.
Information obtained by this publication indicates that the 4 judges are to resume duty in January 2018 with the exception of Justice Garekwe who will resume duty in July 2017.
The timing of the 4 judges’ recall to active duty is based on the expiration of the employment contracts of the judges who were acting  during their suspension, sources say.
With the exception of Justice Dr. Godfrey Radijeng who was appointed as a substantive High Court judge following the retirement of Justice Lakvinder Walia , the other acting appointments had their contracts extended to January 2018 as a consequence to the extended length of the suspension of the 4 judges due to the now settled litigation.
The Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi confirmed to media that the judges apologised to both Khama and Chief Justice Dibotelo, on their own volition following a long legal brawl which threatened the independence of the judiciary and the democratic values of Botswana’s governance under Khama. The investigating tribunal which Khama had set up, in accordance with Section 97 of the Constitution, to inquire into the judge’s conduct has also been dissolved and the police case set aside. The deal also included judges withdrawing their case against government.
Still in respect of the Judiciary, Minister of Defence JustcieJustice and Security Shaw Kgathi told parliament that  threethat three judge’s contracts have been extended beyongbeyond the mandatory retirement age of  70 of 70 to enable them to deliver judgments and to complete the proceedings that they had commenced before they attained the mandatory retirement age.
He said the judges whose contracts have been extended beyond retirement age are justices John Mosojane (retirement age 30 June 2008), Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi (16 July 2015) and Justice Lakvinder Walia (30 December 2016). Selibe Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse last month asked the Minister if there was a judge or judges who have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 whose contracts have been extended; if so, to state the names of these judges; when they attained the age of 70; grounds for extension of their contracts; and whether the contracts were gazetted; if so, to provide particulars of the Government Gazette(s) in question. Judge President of the Court of Appeal, Ian Kirby who reached retirement age last year was not mentioned by the Minister.
Kgathi had also explained that contract extensions of their appointments were not published in the Government Gazette as it is not a requirement of the law.

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