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.
Gaborone Bonnignton South Member of Parliament (MP) Christian Greef has submitted a letter of complaint to party chairman Slumber Tosogwane to take stern action against former minister Dr Alfred Madigele for causing chaos in the constituency.
There has been simmering tension between the two in Gaborone Bonnignton South, where former minister Dr. Madigele is said to be busy working the ground with the intention of contesting the constituency in 2024. Greef is said to have fallen out of favour with the party top hierarchy due to his association with the beleaguered party secretary general Mpho Balopi, something which he says is “unfounded”. Greef told this publication that “there are some with mischievous attempts here, but I will sort them out.”
Insiders, however, reveal that it is Madigele who has been causing unrest in the constituency as he plots his comeback to parliament in 2024. This is notwithstanding the fact that Madigele has also been promised the position of secretary general, should the party faithful ratify a proposal by the party politburo to reconfigure the position.
However, Madigele does not want to count on the SG position, hence the decision to to contest the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. There are reports that there is a spirited campaign by some party members to reject a mulled plan to have the SG being a full-time employee of the party. This has irked Greef and has since approached the party structures for redress. “We are writing this letter to issue a complaint regarding misconduct by certain members of the BDP in our constituency.
There are several incidents where these individuals have been causing uncalled-for disruptions during party activities in Gaborone Bonnington South,” a letter penned by Greef, addressed to the regional chairperson, reads. He further added, “The group of people who are causing all these unnecessary tension in our constituency is identified and allegedly known by Madigele’s teams who is said to be campaigning for 2023 primary elections.
As the branch we witnessed the same team with similar misconduct during Bophirima Ward by election which we believe caused the party to lose the ward and continue to bring the image of the party in disrepute.” Lately, Madigele has relocated to the same constituency and that has created anxiety to Greef who is a first-time MP. Greef is concerned about how his rival was accepted in his constituency without his knowledge. If he had his wish, he would kick out Madigele from the constituency.
Greef, in another letter copied to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, says Madigele has brought the branch into disarray by campaigning for a parliamentary seat contrary to the party’s regulations for conduct of primary elections. “I therefore humbly appeal to you to call Dr Madigele, who is not a member of our branch, to order,” he said. Party officials in the region are aware of the matter; some say the MP’s complaint is baseless. However, the MP, according to sources, will fight to the bitter end to ensure that his arch rival is purged out.
Monthe and Marumo Attorneys who are representing suspended Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo in a legal dispute pitting him against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have said that they would submit a legal bill to the agency.
This was after DCEC’s acting Director General, Tshepo Pilane had written a letter to the law firm demanding that some files and documents belonging to the agency be returned. “We refer to your letter dated 3rd June 2022 wherein you advised of termination of our mandate. In view thereof we have to file a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record for and on behalf of the Organisation (DCEC),” Monthe Marumo Attorneys said in their letter.
The lawyers also indicated that, “the firm is in the process of finalizing your invoice and upon settlement of same, we will duly release the contents of the file, in so far as it relate to DCEC.” Pilane had informed the law firm that, “Following the Directorate’s termination of any and/or mandate between the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and your law firm and/or attorney of an Associate law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company on the 3rd June 2022.”
He added that, “I do hereby request that all DCEC documents in custody be returned to the DCEC on or before 12hours today the 6th June 2022. You are also informed that none of this information shall be used by your office under any circumstances.” Meanwhile Katlholo has told the High Court that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was on the rampage as it continues to act with impunity.
He revealed this in an urgent application in which he seeks among others that Pilane, Deputy Director General of DCEC Priscilla Israel and the agency’s senior legal advisor Edwin Batsalwelang to be committed to jail for contempt of a court. The Court order had directed that a deputy sheriff should collect files and dockets from the DCEC office and place them into the custody of the Court. “Consequent to the order of his Lordship, the DISS has continued on its rampage and has arrested two officers of the DCEC and detained them in a Hitler style arrangement,” said Katlholo.
He added that, quite clearly the “DISS with the assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents seeks to conceal all the evidence by obstructing Judicial process.” He said his latest current application has been brought at the earliest opportunity following defiance and acts of obstruction at the instance of the respondents. Katlholo saidthe conduct of the Pilane, Israel, Batsalelwang and DIS are an aggression on the rule of law, the Constitution of Botswana and the Judiciary in general.
“The DISS clearly has every intention of continuing to defy my rights and with the due assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Pilane, Israel and Batsalelwang). To refuse an interdict, thereby allowing the perpetration of an ongoing wrong is an anathema to the principle of legality,” said Katlholo. He said, “The DISS cannot be allowed to continue acting in contravention of the law, and to fragrantly invade an act of Parliament.”
He reiterated that the files or documents or dockets remain vulnerable and there is need that they be removed from the office and placed in the custody of the Registrar. There can never be a safe place than Court, said Katlholo. “Should the matter not be heard as urgent, the likelihood of the files concerned and the information therein dissipating or being interfered with is high and once the evidence of the concerned files has been compromised or contaminated there is no other relief in law that fix such, there is therefore no alternative remedy,” he said.
Katlholo added that, “Most importantly, any unwarranted access to the files may compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations and expose informants and whistleblowers. Once they have been compromised, no court action may restore such.” He said it was necessary and extremely urgent that the Court steps in to protect the rule of law against the respondents, more particularly the DIS and its agents.
The United States through its State Department’s annual report on global religious freedoms is keeping tabs on Botswana’s decision to arrest of controversial pastor Thuso Tiego by the police.
The report was released a week ago. Tiego was re-arrested this week by the police after he allegedly attempted to spearhead a campaign aimed at shutting down some shops that are run by foreigners. The US’ State Department report says Police arrested a pastor from the Bethel Transfiguration Church September 7 when he tried to deliver a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi demanding his resignation over what the pastor said was mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pastor, Thuso Tiego, also criticized the government for restricting religious gatherings at a time when he said that individuals turned to churches for counselling and support during the pandemic,” the report says. It says Tiego was held overnight at a police station and released without charge. The report cites media reports saying that several of his supporters were beaten by police when they gathered outside the station demanding Tiego’s release.
“The national police service did not announce any disciplinary action against the officers involved,” the report says adding that, “The constitution provides for freedom of religion, with certain exceptions, and protection against governmental discrimination based on creed.” On other related issues, the report said the government continued to pursue court cases involving unregistered churches (sometimes called “fire churches”) coming into the country to “take advantage of” local citizens by demanding tithes and donations for routine services or special prayers.
“The government required pastors of some of those churches to apply for visas – even those from countries whose nationals were normally allowed visa-free entry. The government said in June 2019 that it was reviewing the visa policy for these foreign pastors, but by year’s end had not released the results of this review or announced any changes,” the report says. According to the report, former members of one of the most prominent unregistered churches forced to close in 2019, the Enlightened Christian Gathering, subsequently formed their own smaller, independent churches with local leadership that was ultimately registered by the government.
The report says, under the COVID-19 state of emergency that ended in September, the government limited attendance at religious services to no more than 50 persons at one time and limited services to twice a week. The government also banned all religious gatherings during “extreme social distancing” periods. Although the limits on religious gatherings lasted 18 months and prevented some individuals from fully practicing their faith, most religious groups did not say their freedom of religion was being restricted and stated that the extraordinary measures were necessary for public health
The report says the US Embassy officials engaged with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and other religious representatives to discuss religious freedom, interreligious relations, and community engagement. “Topics included government tolerance of minority religious groups, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious expression, and interfaith cooperation to address community challenges,” the report says.
The report says under its broader protections of freedom of conscience, the constitution provides for freedom of thought and religion, the right to change religion or belief, and the right to manifest and propagate religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance. It says the constitution’s provision of rights also prohibits discrimination based on creed.
The constitution permits the government to restrict these rights in the interest of protecting the rights of other persons, national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health when the restrictions are deemed “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.” “The state of emergency imposed from March 2020 to September 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which capped the size of regular religious gatherings and meetings, was the first time the government ever exercised this provision,” the report says.