Inspector David Williams of the Botswana Police Service, and his wife Seonyana, have filed an application in the Lobatse High Court asking the Court to set aside a case in which they are accused of swindling the government of Botswana of P2 million saying the state failed to try them within a reasonable time.
In their affidavits, prepared by Letsweletse Dingake of Modimo and Associates, the couple cited the Master and Registrar of the Lobatse High Court, Godfrey Nthomiwa, and the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) as respondents.
They submitted that since they first appeared in Court at the beginning of 2000, the case was repeatedly postponed on numerous occasions and stated that the Director of DPP, Leatile Dambe, was on several occasions responsible for the delay in that the Court was on numerous occasions told by her representative that she would not be available because of other official commitments.
On one occasion they submitted they were told that Dambe was appearing in Circuit Court. Besides the failure of Dambe to turn up on several occasions, they submitted that the worst followed after former Village Magistrate Banyatsi Mmekwa had resigned from the public service.
They pointed out that after Mmekwa’s resignation, a period of ten months passed without being told by the prosecution when the case would continue. They submitted that they were told that Mmekwa had confirmed that he would turn up to preside over the trial but he failed to do so on numerous occasions and the case was further delayed by months.
After several postponements, the accused said, the former Gaborone Chief Magistrate Takona Charumbira, who is currently Assistant Master and Registrar of the Lobatse High Court, wrote a letter to the Master and Registrar of the High Court informing him about the failure of Mmekwa to turn up for the case.
At one stage, they submitted that they even raised a complaint about the lack of progress in the case which they blamed on the DPP.
After that, in yet another mention, they submitted that they were told that negotiations were taking place between Mmekwa and the Registrar and Master of the High Court in order to persuade Mmekwa to conclude the case.
They were after that told that Mmekwa had finally agreed to continue with the case but said that he would have to be sworn in as a Magistrate first.
After being sworn in, they said he again failed to appear in Court on several occasions. It was only last month that they were informed that the prosecution was ready to continue with the case and that Mmekwa would be available.
The couple submitted that they feel that their Constitutional right to be prosecuted within reasonable time had been violated in that the case has gone for five years and 10 months.
Furthermore, they claim that they have been denied the right to legal representatives in that their accounts were frozen, which made it difficult for them to pay for legal advisers.
They further pointed out that it had cost them dearly in that they lost property in the form of a house which was sold because they could not service their loans at the Botswana Building Society. Besides that, Williams says that since he is on interdiction, he is only being paid half salary which is making it difficult for him to support his family.
Also, having been used to leading a relatively affluent life, staying in the Gaborone suburbs and driving around in their cars, they are now using public transport and living in the area of Metsimotlhabe. According to Williams, they are a laughing stock of the community with their children, who used to go to boarding schools in foreign countries, now attending Tswana mediums.
The couple further submitted that if this case is to continue, they will suffer in that they have lost contact with most of the witnesses whom they would have called to give evidence on their behalf and that some of the witnesses might have left the country as they were foreigners.
Additionally, Williams said that since the case had happened a long time ago, he had forgotten most of the facts surrounding the case.