The first accused in the Francistown land scam case, Moloko Ursulla Mokgokong, has been slapped with a P10 000 cash bail by Regional Magistrate North, Lorraine Makati-Lesang.
Mokgokong has also been ordered to provide two reputable Batswana sureties to sign for her on their own cognizance.
The presiding magistrate further suspended the proceedings until the High Court has decided an appeal in which the accused persons are seeking the severing of charges they are facing on the grounds that they had been lumped together and therefore rendered the charge defective.
“The proceedings are suspended until the ruling of the High Court on the appeal,” pronounced Makati-Lesang to a half filled Francistown City Council civic hall.
At least 33 people have been charged in the biggest land fraud case ever to come to the Francistown courts. The enormity of the case is further buttressed by the number of prominent defense counsel engaged by the accused persons among them O.G.B. Marata, Gabriel Komboni, Moses Kadye and others.
Keobonye Samu and Wincott Samaka are the only two accused persons without representation in the ongoing marathon trial.
When the case resumed on Friday, attorney Unoda Mack submitted that Mokgokong was never served with a summons to appear before the court and her attendance was voluntary.
“First accused was never served with a summons to appear when the charge was prepared on the 7th of June 2010. She was in South Africa undergoing medical treatment. We have discussed the matter surrounding her bail conditions with the prosecution. She has a sick leave dating back to February 2010,” said Mack.
He added that Mokgokong was under observation until 30th March and that they appreciated that she continued undergoing medical treatment in South Africa. “It is important that she attends court on the set dates and she will provide her physical address in South Africa including her contact details. She will avail herself when she is needed to attend court and will not interfere with witnesses,” submitted Mack.
Mack further said that Mokgokong is to undergo an operation in South Africa but the date of the operation has not yet been set. He emphasized to the court that when dealing with her bail conditions, the court should be alive to the fact that she was never served with a summons to appear before the court.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Rahiman Khan, confirmed to the court what Mack had said but explained that issues of bail conditions were subject of determination by the court in order for the accused to abide by the conditions set.
Khan also withdrew the application for the warrant of arrest application of Mokgokong as she was present in court.
Regional Magistrate Makati-Lesang informed the accused and their defense counsel that the record of her ruling would be submitted to the High Court next week.
The case, which is expected to attract wide public attention, was attended by amongst others, former MP, Vain Mamela.
Although the case was initially set to begin at 9.30 in the morning it only started late and some of the lawyers who had come early were overheard complaining over the inordinate delay of the commencement of the proceedings.
Even after the court adjourned, some lawyers were heard discussing how amazed they were at the decision of the magistrate in imposing the cash bail on Mokgokong.
Mokgokong, a South African national, is an attorney who was seconded to the lands department in Francistown.
Since the commencement of the case, she has never appeared and at the last hearing in the last week of last month, the prosecution deferred an application for her warrant of arrest after her lawyers made an undertaking that she would avail herself for this week’s proceedings.