Saturday, May 28, 2022

Court temporarily halts Jamali’s prosecution

Lobatse High Court Judge Moses Leburu last week temporarily halted the corruption case involving land magnate Seyed Jamali and Deputy Permanent Secretary Victor Rantshabeng until September, when he will make a decision on their application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

The two had raised a constitutional issue with the High Court, through their lawyers Sadique Kebonang and Gabriel Kanjabanga, arguing that their right to be prosecuted within a reasonable time has been violated.

Kebonang made an urgent application before the High Court on June 8th, arguing that the state had taken an unreasonably long time to prosecute Rantshabeng as his prosecution is premised on the findings of the Lesetedi Commission and on a crime that he purportedly committed in 2004.

“Our client has had the charges hanging over his head for a period of over four years. There has been failure to prosecute him within reasonable time, and this has been very emotionally oppressive as he was exposed to all sorts of stigma and ridicule,” said Kebonang.

Jamali and Rantshabeng were expected to appear before Chief Magistrate Barnabas Nyamazabo on June 15th, where they would be forced to take a plea. Kebonang expressed reservations to this, saying his client cannot be forced to take a plea while there is a constitutional matter pending before the court.

“The court seems adamant that it will take pleas from our client, set trial dates and impose whatever conditions and orders in fulfillment of its case management functions. We ask that the matter be stayed pending the conclusion of the matter before the High Court,” said Kebonang.

Rantshabeng and Jamali finally found the relief they sought when Justice Leburu ordered that their prosecution before Nyamazabo be stayed pending final determination of their constitutional application in September.

The state is expected to have filed their answering papers by June 17th and the applicants their reply by June 27th. The application is set for hearing on September 14th.

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