State drops corruption case against Chinese engineering company
by Mpho Keleboge
The state has been forced to drop charges against all accused in the corruption case in which the China Civil Engineering Company and its Managers are alleged to have tried to influence former Permanent Secretary, now Director of Directorate Public Service Management (DPSM), Carter Morupisi, with a P250 000 bribe.
The state has dropped the charges after one of the key suspects, the former China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation General Manager, Xiaming Wang, allegedly skipped the country after having been granted bail.
Xiaming, a Chinese national, was granted bail on medical grounds and has since not attended any preliminary court proceedings.
“We are withdrawing the case as we are having difficulty with dealing with this matter, more so that one of the key suspects has failed to turn up for court and a further warrant of arrest has been issued against him,” said State Prosecutor, Tladi Modibedi.
He said that the State, with the instructions from the Director of DPP, Leonard Sechele, is still to investigate whether Xiaming had defaulted; if not, then they will re-arrest him and continue with the trial.
“We also have insufficient evidence on his defaulting on appearing before court and our investigations are still ongoing, hence no intention on separation of trial.’’
Both the defense lawyers, Unoda Mack and Dick Bayford, showed no objections on the decision made by the state to withdraw the matter.
The village magistrate, Oahile Mokbe, then discharged and acquitted the remaining accused with liberty to reinstate the case against them after the key suspect is re-arrested.
Dick Bayford, Xiaming’s lawyer, expressed displeasure over the disappearance of his client, saying there was no formal communication with him except an email sent to one of the accused so that he can communicate to China Civil that he is sick and seeking medication in Zambia.
“I have difficulty with that level of communication,” said Bayford. “I was expecting Mr Xiaming to directly communicate with me as his lawyer, so with that absence of instruction from my client, the only option open to me is to withdraw from the case accordingly.’’
Bayford said the non appearance of Xiaming was still being investigated by DCEC and some security intelligence.
He said that if indeed he is genuinely sick, then the expectations are that after recovering he will return and stand trial but if he had wilfully defaulted then it was a huge embarrassment to the administration of justice.
China Civil Engineering Company and its managers were being charged with corruption for trying to influence civil servant, Itumeleng Phuthego, by corruptly giving him P20 000, while Xiaoming Wang, Xiaoxiang Qui and China Civil Engineering had allegedly tried to influence the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology with a P250 000 bribe to assist them to complete the Shakawe school project, which had defects and did not meet the required construction standards.