The high profile cases involving enormous amounts of money by very prominent persons continue to be in and out of court as the State continues to drag its feet.
The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), have been accused by Busang Manewe, a defense lawyer in the Carter Morupisi case, for the tendency of rushing to court with half-baked cases. “There is a growing trend in this Republic where people are dragged to court on half-baked cases,” he said. The past two years have seen high profile cases being registered with the courts by the State but there have been little breakthrough in the matters.
MANEWE WANTS MORUPISI CHARGES DROPPED
Morupisi has been charged on three counts of abuse of office, receiving bribery and money laundering. Morupisi, through his attorney Manewe, made an application to have his charges dropped, claiming that the State is never and would never be ready. Broadhurst Regional Magistrate dismissed the application pleading with the Defense Counsel to be patient and allow the Prosecution time to gather evidence. The Prosecution had argued that the reason the investigations were slow was because they began when Morupisi was still holding the Permanent Secretary to the President position. They also argued that corruption cases take time to unleash and find enough evidence.
Prosecution informed the court that DCEC still needs time to obtain statements from witnesses in South Africa, emphasizing that the State will be ready to commit the accused persons to trial in February, 2020. Manewe rubbished the Prosecution’s arguments and asked to be put on record. “I can assure you when we come back in 2020, the State will ask for more time and we will wait another year while investigations continue. The State is simply not ready and should withdraw the case and bring it [to Court] when they are ready,” said Manewe.
Manewe further said: “It is not normal that a properly directed authority will arrest a charge they are still investigating. One can imagine the harm caused to the accused person’s careers by the DPP. I don’t know why we are in court, I cannot even tell my client why he is in court.”
NGAKAAGAE SAYS THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IS TO BLAME
The National Petroleum Fund’s P250 million scandal involving Bakang Seretse, Mogomotsi Seretse, Kago Stimela, Sadique Kebonang, High Court Justice Zein Kebonang and Kenneth Kerekang, has been before the Magistrate’s court for over two years. The Prosecution has amended the charge five times in a row, however the matter is still not ready for trial. The Kebonang brothers-the accused in the matter- have taken it upon themselves to file an application with the High Court to have their charges dropped.
In an interview with this publication, Ngakaagae expressed deep disappointment with the judicial system. The outspoken Counsel said that it is a great concern that criminal trials are done at the accused person’s expense. He elucidated that such cases exhaust the accused person before trial starts and by the time it gets to the High Court for trial, all their resources would have been exhausted.
“Magistrates seem unwilling to take the state to task, they are seemingly guilty. They allow the state to bring half-baked cases before them. They have reduced the courts to investigating forums,” he alleged. Ngakaagae is worried that prolonged cases with the Magistrate may lead to unfair trials, indicating that no matter how much they may blame the Prosecution, the Magistrates are solely to blame. He pointed out that efforts to appeal to the High Court have yielded no results and it will take another two years to be listened to.
“We are suffering at the hands of the justice system. They are the biggest problem in all these cases, and I am not only looking at NPF but also including the ‘Butterfly’ case and many others. I agree wholly with Manewe. The Judicial system is on the same side as the prosecution because they are comfortable with the constant tendency by the ‘Prosecution of investigations are still ongoing’. They allow them to be comfortable with delaying processes and we know how slow our judicial system is,” said Ngakaagae.
BUTTERFLY FURTHER REMANDED
In yet another popular case involving one Directorate of Intelligence and Security agent, Welheminah Maswabi code name “Butterfly”, who was arrested on three charges of financing terrorism after transferring from an offshore account the sum of P29 million to former DIS spy Chief Isaac Kgosi, in January this year. The now famous Butterfly also faces an alleged criminal offense of falsifying her names to Lorato Hilton and alleged possession of different passports.
On Thursday morning, the inquisitive public thronged the Broadhurst Magistrate Court to witness the most talked about Butterfly as she appeared for her mention under heavy escort. Earlier this month, the High Court denied Butterfly bail. The state argued that the accused might be a flight risk. Both the public and the court were left trembling when they learnt that the accused has over US$390 million in her personal bank accounts.
The state pleaded for the accused to be further remanded in custody as they await the investigating team who are supposed to be outside the country gathering evidence. Butterfly will be back in court on the 27th November 2019. A close source has reliably informed this publication that Butterfly’s arrest will see more arrests in the near future. Some of the high-ranking opposition members might get a taste of the bitter medicine.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.