Legal fraternity mourns judge Marumo

SHARE   |   Sunday, 20 July 2014   |   By Staff Writer

Renowned lawyer and former judge Moatlhodi Marumo has passed on. On Wednesday the Law Society of Botswana confirmed the passing on of Advocate Moatlhodi "Malombo" Marumo. Marumo was born in his home village of Bobonong in 1963 and also attended school there. He did his Standard One at two different schools in the village. In 1970 he was registered at the village’s oldest school, Bobonong Primary School, before transferring to Mafetsakgang. Shortly thereafter he relocated to Gaborone to stay with the family in 1971, attending school at Lesedi Primary School. Afterwards he went to study at the prestigious Thornhill School and then transferred to Northside school where he completed his primary school education. His secondary education was completed at Gaborone Secondary School. While his first love was engineering, and he enrolled for a Pre-entry Science Course (PESC) at the University of Botswana in 1981, he changed to LLB four months later.

He started working for Kirby, Helfer and Collins, the precursor of what is now known as Collins, Newman & Co. until 1992. Marumo was admitted to the bench in 2001 on a permanent basis, a position he held until 2006. He started as a judge first at the Industrial Court before later moving to the High Court. As a judge, he had a sharp and progressive legal mind which delivered intelligent judgments which will always be employed by this and coming generations as good law. His judgments will stand the test of time. As an advocate, he will always be remembered as a jurist who handled a number of important cases, including acting on behalf of the government of Botswana. At the time of his passing, the former judge was operating Marumo Legal Consultants, providing consultancy and advisory services to corporate organisations and lawyers among other things. He was a board member in a number of organisations, among them the Law Society’s Disciplinary Committee.

In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday last year, the retired judge reminisced on how he developed a passion for law saying his father inspired him by always bragging to his friends that he will one day become a judge, which he did. Often described as Botswana’s erudite legal eagle, Marumo made history when he interdicted a deportation order by the then president Festus Mogae against University of Botswana lecturer Professor Kenneth Good, and extended his stay in the country by a week. At the time, he said he was not afraid to attract the ire of the president as he had an obligation to exercise judicial discretion and couldn’t go against his judicial thinking. He believed that people who take up judicial appointments should have courage accompanied by a grasp of how the law works. He made a startling revelation that “some of the people in our judiciary are at the level of finding answers. Some of our judges are in the dark. They learn on the job and sometimes can do that at the expense of a litigant. If the test for selection was more stringent some people who are judges should not be judges ". He opined that it is important that judicial appointment process is revamped to avoid the country losing on foreign investment.

Marumo was viewed by his peers as a man with an incisive legal mind, and was not afraid to express his independence. He was also a staunch Catholic and has been an inspiration to a lot of young lawyers. One of his protégés, Sadique Kebonang, who now runs his own firm, says he used to work with Marumo and learnt a lot. “I worked with him at Monthe Marumo just after I finished law school. He was an excellent teacher who helped me to turn the theory I learnt at school to practise. I used to call him The University of Law. He has a sweet tooth and used to have candies in his office. At times I would sneak into his office and help myself to some,” he says.

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Marumo enjoyed mostly jazz music and the reggae sounds of Bob Marley especially that reggae music was fashionable at the time. Jazz maestros like Joe Sample and the Crusaders were some of his favourite musicians. A football fanatic, Marumo used to play football.