CJ warns against random bailouts

12th February 2018
Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo Source:The Midweek Sun


By Nicholas Mokwena - Reporter

Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo says the perception that whereas police arrest suspects, the courts are quick to release them on bail could backfire if not properly handled. Dibotelo indicated that this narrative if not handled properly has the effect of setting the public against the judiciary. “For example during the course of last week, the police paraded on national television one accused person by the names Keodireste Tlhofaetsi alleged to have committed the offence of murder whilst on bail for having committed another murder.

“Our records show that on the 15th of November 2016 this accused person was denied bail by village magistrate court. Our records show that when this accused person appeared before court on 29th November, the police officer who represented the prosecution did not oppose bail,” he said on Tuesday this week during the official opening of the 2018 Legal Year. The chief justice stated that it is worth noting that even though this offence was allegedly committed in 2016, the accused person has not been committed for trial by the High Court.

He said the public outcry on how the judiciary has and is handling the issue of bail in this country is unnerving. He explained that the public concerns have not fallen on deaf ears.“There seems to be a blame game amongst stakeholders in the judicial and legal system. Whilst admitting that it is the court as the arbiter which is vested with the power to decide whether one is released on bail or not, the court does not act in isolation. It does not rely on any other facts other than those presented before it to make a determination and the providers of this information are none other than the police as investigators and prosecution,” said the chief justice.

Dibotelo said it must be emphasised that the denial of bail must not be used as a mechanism for imprisoning people under the guise or pretext that investigations are ongoing as something tangible has to be produced before the court. He revealed that judges of the high court have resolved that a person denied bail at the magistrates’ court must approach the high court by way of appeal, save in some exceptional circumstances as there were many instances of queue jumping.

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