EMBATTLED Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli facing contempt of court charges in the High Court this week asked the presiding judge, Justice Tšeliso Mokoko to recuse himself because he feels the latter has a vested interest in the matter.
April 4, 2023
3 min read
Molibeli wants judge recusal
Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli
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Molibeli on Monday appeared in court with his lawyer, Advocate Tekane Maqakachane who was expected to argue the case.
Instead, Maqakachane filed the recusal application on behalf of his client who appeared in court last without legal representation.
Molibeli had previously been ordered to appear in court on March 27 to explain why he could not be jailed for contempt of court.
But Molibeli who was until then represented by Advocate Mafefooane Moshoeshoe from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s office asked the court for a postponement to seek his lawyer.
Moshoeshoe told the court last week that the law office would no longer represent Molibeli after he was granted permission by the Attorney General to engage his lawyer.
Justice Mokoko gave the police boss until April 3 to find his lawyer for the case to proceed, failing which, he said, the police chief would stand trial without legal representation.
Molibeli’s last-minute request for the recusal of the judge did not sit well with the respondent’s lawyer, King’s Counsel Salemane Phafane who argued that the application should have been filed last week Monday to give them time to respond.
He said the application for contempt was filed on March 13 and was postponed at the behest of Commissioner Molibeli.
When the matter was supposed to proceed on March 20, Phafane said Molibeli requested another postponement to March 27.
“He forced yet another postponement on March 27 because he was firing his lawyer,” he said.
He accused Molibeli of taking the court for a ride, saying he already knew that on that particular day, he would come to court without a lawyer.
“This is just a ploy to buy time as he knows that the recusal application will have to be dealt with before the contempt of court matter,” he said.
Phafane said Molibeli should be ordered to pay attorney and client costs for the day before being allowed litigation.
For his part, Maqakachane said he was only able to discuss the matter with his client last Sunday after his engagement, adding that the issue of costs, therefore, does not arise.
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“The contempt and recusal are matters between the court and Molibeli not between Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Beleme Lebajoa and Molibeli,” he said.
In June 2022, Lebajoa applied to the High Court to interdict Molibeli from transferring him from his Criminal Investigation Division (CID) office to the Finance and Infrastructure Division (FID) and depriving him of bodyguards.
The court later ordered Molibeli to reinstate Lebajoa in his office and restore his bodyguards, directives that Molibeli failed to heed.
Thereafter, Lebajoa’s lawyers, Phafane, and Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane approached the court, asking for Molibeli’s incarceration for contempt of court.
The ruling on costs, Justice Mokoko said would be delivered on June 8 before he makes his decision on the application for his recusal on June 13.