Court has this week dismissed an application by Gaborone businessman Bakang Seretse and co-accused in which they wanted their criminal charges dropped in the controversial P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga.
Seretse, the accused persons in the NPF case, is charged together with former Department of Energy Director, Kenneth Kerekang; Khulaco (Pty) Ltd, Basis Point (both represented by Bakang as Director), M & B Properties Pty Ltd with Bakang Seretse as Director. They cited also the Member of Parliament for Lobatse and ex-Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy, Security Sadique Kebonang, Raging Bull Pty Ltd, Sadique Kebonang as the Director, twin brother to Sadique and High Court Judge Zein Kebonang.
Mogomotsi Seretse, Leomog Pty Ltd- (Mogomotsi Seretse as Director), Kago Stimela and STM Holdings Pty Ltd, Kago Stimela as Director, were also dragged in. Acting for the defence, was attorneys Ngakaagae and Unoda Mack while Wesson Manchwe was representing the DPP. The accused are faced with 65 counts in the charge sheet most of which are related to money laundering as they are accused of involvement in diverting multimillions of pula from NPF to a private asset management company.
When making the ruling on Friday with regard to the application brought by the accused persons through their attorney Ngakaagae, Broadhurst Regional Magistrate Masilo Mathaka said since it’s not the first time that such request is made to court to drop the charges – which was dismissed – reasons thereof still stands.
“This is not the first time in casu that the court has been moved to quash the charges. A similar application was moved in the past and on the 22 March 2019 I delivered a ruling refusing the application,” the Magistrate stated. He continued: “the reasons I gave then are as valid today.” Magistrate Mathaka further pointed out that “it is in the interest of the accused that they stand trial and clear their names and it is also in the interest of the society that the matter be taken for trial given its seriousness.”
The answer, he said, also concerns Mack’s application for the quashing of the charges as well. “For this sole reason I again refuse the applications for the quashing of the charges,” the Magistrate maintained. Ngakaagae had filed an application to quash the indictment in terms of Section 147 of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act on the 5th June 2019.
The attorney’s argument were that the matter was registered long back in 2017 and his clients have been appearing in court throughout. He argued that the objective of the criminal law is not only to hold people accountable for alleged crime but to do so in a fair and just way. “In a space of one and half years since the registration of the matter the State has amended the charge sheet 5 times. I am not too sure of the count, but of course it has been amended several times and there was attempt to amend it to about 169 counts which never materialized,” Ngakaagae lashed out in the heads or argument which were read out by the Magistrate.
His argument, Mathaka said, is that goal posts keep shifting, to his clients’ prejudice. The State has behaved contemptuously to the court and its process and continue to do so, he said, adding that Ngakaagae’s arguments that the accused’s interest are equally important as are those of society. Magistrate: “I can’t agree more.” He further narrated that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has responded to the application (brought by Ngakaagae) by submitting at length that since the court is not entrusted with the trial of the case, it does not have the power to deal with the application raised by Ngakaagae.
“This court was called upon to engage in the interpretation of section 147 and 148 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act,” he stressed out. Meanwhile Ngakaagae has indicated his willingness to appeal for the second opinion of law the matter while the Magistrate was adamant to take the matter now to the High Court. “I thought today we are committing the matter to High Court. We can’t continue like this as these appeals may drag the case further,” he stated.
The matter was therefore scheduled for committal on August 26 to prepare it for the higher court. Magistrate also separately dismissed the DPP through Manchwe’s plea to allow for amendment of the charge sheet in the public interest to cater for 3 more accused to be charged citing that they have been amending it for far too long and therefore can’t allow it for the 5th or sixth time.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.