The much anticipated National Petroleum case (NPF) that has been before the magistrate courts for two and a half years now, appears to be stagnant.
This week, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions swiftly amended their charge which was read to the accused persons Bakang Seretse, Kenneth Kerekang, Member of Parliament (MP) for Lobatse and former Minister of Mineral, Resources, Green Technology, Energy and Security; Sadique Kebonang, his twin brother High Court Justice Zein Kebonang, Mogomotsi Seretse, Kago Stimela, Khulaco (Pty) Ltd, and Basis Points Capital, are charged with 126 counts of money laundering.
This is the ninth time the charge sheet has been amended since the case was brought before the Broadhurst Magistrate Court in 2017, before Magistrate Masilo Mathaka. The counts against the accused began at 65 and are now at 126 counts of money laundering. Nonetheless, the case has been taken over by Magistrate Goodwill Makofi at the Village Magistrate Court.
However, the defense attorneys, Unoda Mack, Kgosi Ngakaagae and Bogopa Manewe, told the court that ever since the case was brought before court the state has been going back and forth with the charge sheet. They further emphasized to the court none of their clients understands neither of the charges they are faced with therefore requesting an application for further particulars. “As far as I am concerned we shouldn’t be here. We do not agree with the charge sheet.
With no charge sheet there cannot be any committal,” alleged Unoda Mack
Agitated Mack could be heard in a dispute with Prosecutor Mandu during the court adjournment stressing that the DPP should admit that they do not have a case therefore quash the charges. “It’s been two years four months now and you are still amending your charge sheet, admit it you do not have sufficient evidence against our clients, why not quash the charges and revise your investigations?”
Mandu begged to differ, telling the court that he does not see any reason for the Magistrate to delay because he has served them with all requirements for committal. “I cannot blindly commit the matter to the High Court. Why do you want me to make committal before arguments? Wait for the arguments, let us follow process,” responded Magistrate Makofi.
The State has since demanded for the court to commit the matter to the High Court. Incidentally, last month the case was committed to the High Court by Magistrate Masilo who was of the view that the case had dragged for too long and it was about time that it be given the seriousness it deserves.
A week later, the DPP brought before the court a new charge sheet. According to Mack, the new charge sheet was dated 16th August, before committal was made on 21st August, emphasizing that the state knew about the amended charge sheet but were reluctant to bring it before court questioning vigorously the DPP’s process.
Ngaakagae highlighted that they will file a memorandum count-by-count, “we have been down this road before and we will go through it again, count-by-count.” In conclusion the Magistrate Makofi requested that both parties submit answers to the question: “What is committal to an accused person, section 63 (which explains reading of the charge sheet before committal), what is the significance of dividing provisions of the law and classifying in the present situation?” The DPP and the defense attorneys are to file their submissions on October 31st followed by a ruling on December 4th 2019.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.