Lobatse High Court Judge, Boipuso Makhwe has demanded that Bank Gaborone should publicly apologise to her for defamation of character.

Bank Gaborone has been dragged into a legal battle between Pricewaterhousecoopers-Botswana, the audit firm that has taken the Choppies shareholders, Justices Dr Zein Kebonang and Makhwe to court with damning allegations over judgements handed down by Justice Makhwe.

Applicants are Pricewaterhousecoppers (PwC) 1st Applicant), Binedell Rudi (2nd Applicant) against Ottapatu Ramachandran (1st Respondent), Farouk Ismail (2dn Respondent), Dr Zein Kebonang (3rd Respondent) and Boipuso Makhwe (4th Respondent).

PwC wants a decision of the high court given in favour of the shareholders last year to be nullified. Audit firm PWC wants the high court to make an order declaring that all proceedings in this matter before Justice Boipuso Makhwe, including but not limited to her ruling dated 5 April 2023, are a nullity; and the defendants to pay the costs.

Justice Maskhwe’s lawyers Serole and Partners has written to Bank Gaborone Chief Executive Officer demanding that a report which has been relied upon for the case be retracted.

“In the proceedings, it has come to client’s attention and ourselves that a report relied upon was commissioned by the bank and the report states that the client did not author her own judgement but the judgement was authored and/or written on her behalf by Judge Kebonang.

“The report in question was a matter of fact commissioned by yourself on instructions to one of your Board member Mr Peter Collins. The report was also apparently authorized with your auditors input,” the letter dated 17th May 2024, reads.

The lawfirm says it is their considered opinion, the conclusions and allegations made in the report are defamatory of client’s character, as they are false and malicious and were intended to injure Justice Makhwe’s integrity as a judge of the High Court of Botswana.

“To that end, we have been strictly instructed as follows; you retract the report in writing to the public; you tender an apology in two local newspapers on the front page of each newspaper; and you report Pricewaterhousecoopers (Botswana) and Mr Peter Collins to the appropriate regulating authority. Client has also instructed us to report your conduct to Bank of Botswana for an appropriate action,” the lawfirm said.

According to Justice Makhwe, in her Founding Affidavit the Applicants attack her professional integrity based on allegations and claims made by Peter Collins. The allegations by Collins and the Applicants, she said, are blatantly untrue, defamatory, contemptuous and disrespectful of the Court's authority and dignity and of the Rulings handed down by her.

“In this affidavit I do not intend to respond to the baseless allegations against me, or the insults engineered by the Applicants and Mr Peter Collins or justify the rulings I issued.

“By way of background, following the retirement of the late Judge Mothobi, the case brought by the first and second respondents against the applicants under the above case number ("the matter") was allocated to me.

“Until my recusal, the case was managed by me. In the course of my management of the case, I issued two rulings. One in 2021 and the other in 2023,” Justice Mkahwe said in her affidavit filed with the court.