Justice Nick McNally of the Court of Appeal on Friday granted convicted former Group Secretary of the Debswana Mining Company, Joseph Matome, bail pending his application for leave to appeal to be heard in July this year.
Matome is doing a two-year jail term after he and the late former Debswana Managing Director, Louis Nchindo, were convicted of giving fictitious information to former President Festus Mogae to support the allocation of Plot 55720 in Gaborone, belonging to Nchindo’s company – Tourism Development Consortium (Pty).
They did so under the guise that Tourism Development Consortium (Pty) was partially owned by the Botswana Government and had intentions to contribute to the diversification of the country’s economy when the opposite was true.
Before Justice McNally, who throughout court proceedings displayed a clear sign of hearing loss granted Matome bail, prosecutors from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions had opposed that the State was not prepared to argue the application for leave of appeal and needed more time because Matome’s advocate, Paul Farlam, served them with over 5000 pages of records of proceedings on Thursday afternoon. The State asked for a postponement.
Matome’s attorney, flown from Cape Town, argued that the DPP has previously asked for a postponement over the same matter arguing that there was no need for an in depth evaluation of records.
“We know the key documents. There is no basis for the DPP to say they are not prepared. Mr. Matome is now in jail for seven months. Given his two-year conviction, Mr. Matome could spend his entire sentence in jail without parole. This will prejudice Mr. Matome,” attorney Farlam submitted before Justice McNally.
Farlam told the Court of Appeal that Matome is not a flight risk as he has young children.
But the DPP’s Matlhogonolo Phuthego would not have any of that.
“We need adequate time. This matter cannot be done in a wishy-washy way. Attorney Farlam is advancing a very dangerous argument. Why does he want to ambush the State? We are not even sure if the record is in order as it was hastily prepared. In any case, there is no proper obligation for bail in terms of the Constitution,” Phuthego argued.
“Are you saying we have to have a formal application for bail?” Justice McNally asked Phuthego to which he replied “yes my Lord”.
Justice McNally, however, granted Matome bail and postponed the matter to the July sitting of the Court of Appeal.
“I order that this application be heard earlier in the roll. If the application is successful, the appeal itself will be heard later in the roll. Meanwhile bail is granted,” said McNally.