The key accused persons in the multi-million pula Central Medical Services fraud case suffered another devastating blow today as Village Senior Magistrate, Lot Moroka, failed to make a ruling over their request to be afforded adequate communication to talk to their defence attorneys, relatives and friends.
Through their attorneys, Patrick Cole and Clement Molefe, the accused had demanded that they be accorded an opportunity to access their cell-phones to be able to communicate with their defence lawyers, relatives and friends.
Cole, Molefe and Jabulani Johnson and eight other co-accused persons currently out on bail, are accused of swindling the government of over P20 million and the trio has since been remanded in custody as their bail applications hit a brick wall.
Another co-accused, now an accomplice witness and with a court order not to be named, has since pleaded guilty to the charge and is currently languishing in prison. He wrapped up his evidence in chief today implicating the above accused persons.
“My clients, namely Patrick Cole and Clement Molefhe, have approached me informing me that the security personnel at the prisons prevented them from communicating with their defence attorneys, relatives and friends through their cell-phones,” said defence attorney Dick Bayford. “I would like to inform this court that access to adequate communication is a fundamental right that must be accorded to everyone, including my clients. My clients are not convicts but are barely remanded in custody. I, therefore, plead with this honourable court to give an order in favour of my clients.”
Chipped in Duma Boko, in support of his colleague: “This honourable court should be reminded that those remanded in custody are entitled to visits and, as such, are permitted to communicate within earshot of the prison’s warders. I, therefore, find it odd that they could not be provided with such with regards to the issue of cell-phones. These are humans, like everybody, and they would want to communicate with their mothers and relatives.”
Before the prosecution got up to respond, Bayford intervened again, this time challenging the prosecution to come up with compelling evidence to suggest his clients ever intruded into the rights of the administration so as to deny them such a noble opportunity.
“If the court could learn from the prosecution if my clients ever jeopardized the ends of justice, then such a denial would be noted but without such evidence I find it unjustifiable,” Bayford argued.
Taking the floor, the Deputy Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution, Phadu Solomon, said she was not prepared to make any submissions regarding the request as she had to consult.
“This request was communicated to me this morning and, as such, I am not in a position to intervene, particularly that the demand involves fundamental rights of the use of the cellphones to communicate to friends and so forth. I need some time to consult,” Solomon maintained, prompting the wrath of Boko who chastised her for not taking her work seriously.
“As a senior lawyer, you should be in a position to act now. A professional lawyer by nature must know the laws,” he said of Solomon.
Against this backdrop, magistrate Moroka was thus pushed into a tight corner, unable to make a ruling, and the case was postponed to April 6th.