Fresh information reaching this publication is that the State has engaged South Africa veteran lawyer and expelled National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) case.
This was after Monday accused persons in the NPF case; Kenneth Kerekang, Bakang Seretse, the Kebonang’s twins Sadique and Zein, Kago Setimela and Mogomotsi Seretse appeared Chief Magistrate Masilo Mathake and the prosecution applied for postponement on the grounds that they want to engage “a senior counsel.” It was revealed by sources that the “senior counsel” in this case is none other than former SA senior prosecutor Abrahams.
After serving in the prosecution for years, Abrahams was fired as National Director of Public Prosecutions of South Africa in 2017. He left the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa under a cloud, after the Constitutional Court of South Africa found his appointment by former SA President Jacob Zuma was unconstitutional. Abrahams’ downfall came after he was seen as an ally to Zuma who would be complicit in helping the former President dodge a myriad of corruption charges that followed him to his demise.
After his expulsion, Abrahams vowed that he will not be lost in the legal fraternity and his biggest task will be on Botswana chambers as the lead state lawyer in the NPF case. It is further alleged that Abrahams was second choice for the State as initially celebrated South African advocate Gerrie Nel preferred was preferred. However, it is alleged that Nel rejected the state after his preliminary analysis revealed inconsistency and selectiveness on the NPF case.
Nel shot to stardom when he successfully prosecuted South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius for murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a rollercoaster marathon criminal case which started in 2014 and ended in 2016. Before the internationally publicized Pistorius case, Nel who is reported to be earning about P1.2 million a year put late former SA Police Commissioner Jackie Selibe in prison. It is revealed that the state had sought the services of a senior counsel as a way of upping the chance on the corruption case.
Sources within the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have revealed that the State has been frustrated in its efforts to crack the case and is under political pressure to get convictions on the accused. The new administration of President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to have earmarked the NPF as its ‘trophy’ in the fight against corruption, and has vowed to throw everything at the accused in the NPF.
“The DPP and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) are trying hard to get a conviction on the current accused whilst wanting to protect some key government officials in the case. And that is where the difficulty is. Furthermore, evidence and a series of events unfortunately negate the conspiracy that the State alleges.” Another plea brought before Chief Magistrate Mathake on Monday was an application by the prosecution to amend the charges in order to add more accused persons and charges.
After apologizing to the court and accused for delay on the case, Deputy Director of DPP Wesson Manchwe said a postponement would be for the long-term interest of the accused as some charges will be removed, and some added so that they can face one consolidated trial instead of many cases.
But, the magistrate would not entertain the application, following an opposition from the defence team. Senior Attorneys Unoda Mack and Kgosietsile Ngakaagae had urged the court to dismiss the application arguing that from their expectations they were there for the main business of the day, which was for further and better particularity. They argued that the State seemed not to comprehend the extent of prejudice on the accused because they have become accustomed to delays and postponements.
It was then that Magistrate Masilo dismissed the State and ordered the parties to argue another leg of further particularities while still waiting to join more accused persons. “You cannot postpone the entire proceedings. Deal with what you have while still waiting to pursue another aspect.”
The defence submissions centered on the fact the charges were insufficient, incomplete, confusing and lacking on substance and truth. They further said the State was hiding behind the reason that they will provide evidence on trial. “In criminal cases, you can’t ambush accused persons. The Louis Nchindo versus the State set precedent on the obligations of the State to provide evidence before an accused,” Ngakaagae argued.
“But when it comes to providing evidence in the civil proceedings to grab assets, the State is quick to provide uncorroborated documents to make their case,” added Ngakaagae who further moved that the charges be quashed. In their response, the State was very limited apart from saying that the argument was wrongly before the magistrate, saying the matter will be committed to the High Court where the particularity aspects will be argued.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.