Thursday, December 5, 2019

Court grants “Butterfly” bail

Terror accused Welheminah Maswabi has scored a small but significant victory against the State after her application for bail was granted by the Gaborone High Court.

Justice Michael Mothobi on Friday rejected a request by the State that the case in which the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) officer Welheminah Maswabi charged with terrorism financing be held in camera.

Following a decision by the prosecution not to oppose an application for bail pending trial launched by Maswabi’s defence, Mothobi granted Maswabi bail pending trial.

The defence then told the Court that it would launch an application seeking costs because the court had ruled in their favour. At this point, State prosecutor Omphemetse Makale requested that the case be held in camera.

“Prior to arguments, we will make an application that the case be held in camera,” said Makale. Mothobi sought to know whether the decision by the prosecution to launch such an application was triggered by the application for costs by the defence.

“Is this provoked by the costs application? You can do that at the Magistrate Court. Here it is a public forum. It is the first time in my professional career that the question of costs must be held in camera,” he said.

Mothobi said the fact that the gallery was full to capacity meant that the case was a matter of public interest.

“The public has a right to know what happened in the courts. These are their courts, they have to know how transparent and independent the Courts are,” said Mothobi. He said the prosecution’s intention to launch an application that the case be held in camera “brings a dry taste in my mouth.”

Earlier Mack had argued that the court should grant costs in favour of their client insisting that even the prosecution was not against that.

Replying Makale said they didn’t mention in the consenting order that they did not oppose the application for costs. He explained that was not part of the conditions of the consenting order. But Mothobi brought his attention to the fact that in “your document there a blank statement that you do not oppose the application for costs.”

Makale stood his grounding insisting that “Our investigations are not yet complete.” Mothobi also wanted to know the names of the witnesses that the prosecution intends to call in the case so that Maswabi does not interfere with those witnesses as part of the conditions for bail.

Mothobi read out the names of the witnesses to Maswabi and they include among others Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime investigator Jako Hubona and Deputy Speaker Mabuse Pule.

Mack stated that their decision to apply for costs was necessitated by the fact that the prosecution filed a notice of non opposition.

“If your Lordships looks at the Applicant’s founding affidavit, she makes averments to the effect that the evidence that was initially placed before Justice Gabanagae is false and fabricated. The State deliberately placed fabricated evidence before this Court. This Court must show disapproval of such conduct,” he said. Mothobi sought to know from Mack if all the allegations contained in Maswabi’s founding affidavit were true, to which Mack answered in the affirmative.

“That is the effect of this non opposition by the prosecution,” he said.

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