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Some Judges taking bribes - LSB

Publishing Date : 11 February, 2019

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Law Society of Botswana has this week highlighted that some Judicial Officers may be taking bribes to sway judgements. Diba Diba, Chairman of law Society of Botswana said this at the ceremony marking the opening of the Legal year 2019 where the President Mokgweetsi Masisi was present.


Others in attendance were also the Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane, Speaker of Parliament Gladys Kokorwe, Judges of the High Court and Court of Appeal and legal practitioners. Diba who was speaking for the first time since being elected as Chairman in December cautioned the judicial officers from unlawful influence such as bribery.


He stated that: “it is well known and often said that perceptions are stronger than reality. In this regard the Society is concerned at the whispers that are doing rounds and are known to many, even members of the public, that some judicial officers may be taking bribes,” he told the gathering. He further on justified that “whilst this may not be true and the Society has no evidence to believe that it is true, it is important that Administration of Justice and law enforcement agencies take keen interest in these rumours in order to assure the public that they can trust the judiciary.”


Diba borrowed from the Bishop who had spoke earlier that he called you (the judges) “the vessels of justice” and that therefore should guard against any professional misconduct such as bribery.
Lawyers, Magistrates, Judges’ misconduct also concerns the LSB
According to the new LSB Chairman, the Society has in recent times been receiving formal reports on the conduct of some legal practitioners through judgements and therefore that the Law Society commends such action as it assists the profession to correct and build itself.
He added that the Society will continue to take such reports seriously and act on them in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act.
In a similar case, the Society also requested the Administration of Justice to pay close attention to a phenomenon that they have talked about in the past but continues to exist, especially at the Magistrate Court.
He continued: “Judicial officers are at times very discourteous and sometimes downright disrespectful to legal practitioners, their clients and even members of the public in the gallery.”
Members of the public, he said are threatened with arrest and/or removal from the court, sometimes for such benign conduct as reading a newspaper in court adding that Police officers and other court staff are also routinely threatened with arrests.
Diba, as a result, explained that the office of a Judge or Magistrate requires a mature, sober and measured character and not one given to emotive temperament and/or inclined to play to the gallery.
“Legal Practitioners and members of the public deserve and if none is forthcoming they will lose their respect for the courts in general and ultimately the rule of law. I am however happy to learn that the concern has been receiving attention from the Chief Justice, “he said.
The Society, he highlighted that encourages all those who have suffered or will suffer disrespect or any other unprofessional conduct at the hands of judicial officers or legal practitioners to contact the Chief Justice or the Law Society of Botswana.
Law Society warns lawyers on abusing trust accounts


In terms of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Society Chair raised as a concern while explaining that trust accounts of legal practitioners are only intended to be used for receiving or holding money which is to be held in trust for a particular purpose connected with the practice of the attorney. In terms of the LPA, he emphasised that it is an offence punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment if an attorney contravenes the provision. It is also prima facie professional misconduct for which if found guilty the sanction may be disbarment, he said.


LSB applauds Masisi on impending of declaration of assets law

The Society Chair also told Masisi, who was in the audience that he commends him on the public announcement of his government’s intention to promulgate a law on declaration of assets. “Such a law is long overdue,” he stressed to the president on his face. He later on pointed out that however that such a law will not be of significant assistance unless accompanied by legislation on the right to information (Freedom of Information Act) and an appropriate media practitioners’ law.

Also the lawyers’ body stressed that Legal Practitioners Act is outdated

The legal profession and the practice of law in Botswana are governed by the Legal Practitioners Act, enacted in 1996. According to the Chair “this Act has been overtaken by times.” He said: “we are most grateful that after more than 10 years of trying without success to have the Act amended we have the government’s assurance that the amendment will be placed before parliament during this year.” Therefore he highlighted further that the Society requests legal practitioners, the Judiciary, stakeholders and the public at large to look out for the publication of the Bill soon and assist with the amendments.

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