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BY DUNCAN KGANGKENNA
A case in which the former Botswana Premier League (BPL) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bennett Mamelodi is challenging the judgment of the High Court in relation to the findings of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) commissioned forensic audit will be finally determined on the 26th July.
Sometime in 2016, the association engaged South African audit firm ADM Financial Forensic Services to undertake an audit for the ‘review of accounting procedures, records and reporting’ of the league.
In its report, the audit found that Mamelodi misappropriated funds and found him guilty of maladministration. The damning report was however never adopted by the BFA.
The former BPL CEO then challenged the findings of the report before the courts, but Justice Godfrey Radijeng ruled in favor of the BFA after deeming the forensic report to be ‘moot’ as it was never adopted by the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC).
Pleading his client’s case before the appeals court, Mamelodi’s attorney Dutch Leburu argued that his client reputation has been dented by the findings of a report that was never adopted by the BFA National Executive Committee.
”The report was not adopted and cannot be used as the basis of argument and its intention was targeted at embarrassing the appellant and get rid of him,” argued Leburu.
The appellant’s lawyer further wanted the court to set the report aside because his client was never given chance to respond to the allegations found by the report.
“Mamelodi’s good name has been maligned without him being afforded a hearing. When the forensic investigations were being carried out, the appellant was never called either to explain any matter whatsoever, or make a statement or to deal with any issue being raised against him. However, other people, not on the suspension were called to testify. Mamelodi’s image has greatly been tarnished,” he told the court.
Leburu is of the view that the report prepared without the version of Mamelodi, makes serious allegations of fraud and criminal activity and smears him as an unreliable and a dishonest individual.
Leburu in his argument reasoned that the forensic audit report, from which charges against his client were formulated, should be set aside as his client was never given a chance to respond to the defamatory findings the report alleged to have found against Mamelodi.
“The case has clearly demonstrated the breaches of procedural fairness and natural justice and this has tainted the findings and/or conclusions and/or inferences reached regarding Mamelodi.”
Leburu also found malice on part of BFA by leaking the report to the media and exposing it to the wider public. The appellant’s lawyer also argued his client was never subjected to disciplinary hearing and was fired while on sick leave.
In defence of the report, BFA legal representative Joseph Akoonyatse argued that when the BFA instituted the investigations, they were genuinely doing it for administrative purposes. He also apologised for the report that was intended to be an internal BFA operations ended up in the public.
“Had the appellant appeared before the disciplinary hearing he could have defend himself and because he was always not available it ended up him being fired because it was costly to the BFA to keep him while he is not productive to the BFA,” Akoonyatse argued.
The BFA legal representative went on to say he did not see any reason for Mamelodi to have been interviewed during investigations.
Asked by the Judges whether it is a fair procedure to deal only with one side of the equation and whether it is possible to reach a balance when you have only one side of the story, Akoonyatse said Mamelodi would have given an opportunity to give his side of the story during the disciplinary hearing.
Mamelodi’s appeal is being heard by a panel of three judges, being Justice Arthur Hamilton (presiding), Justice Zibani Makhwade and Judge Harms.