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.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.