Friday, October 23, 2020

DCEC in bid to gag the press

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) now want media houses to allow them to look at their stories before they can be published. Speaking at a Press Conference on Friday DCEC Director General Rose Seretse said the media should take them into confidence so that they do not end up publishing stories about cases that are being investigated by the DCEC.

Seretse explained that it did not matter whether the media houses broke the story or not, once the DCEC is investigating an allegation of corruption the media should surrender the investigation to the DCEC. “The media should not run parallel investigations,” she said.

“If you have information that you need to publish try by all means to check whether the allegation is not under investigation by the DCEC. If not checked with DCEC media house are likely to publish information that will jeopardise the DCEC investigation” Journalists pointed out that they always pose questions to the DCEC before publishing, but not even once had the DCEC come out to state that they are investigating the alleged corruption. The DCEC always states that I could neither deny nor confirm. Seretse claims that there are cases that her Department investigated before but because of the parallel investigations that the media run the cases ended up nowhere. “I do not think that an institution should expect special treatment, because we all abide by the same laws. The law is for all of us to abide by and to obey.”

“Parallel investigations jeopardise our investigations, once you have given the DCEC information please give DCEC space to investigate and please stay away from the case. There is nothing wrong not to report the case and DCEC not doing anything about it but it is wrong when you report the case and run parallel investigations.”

On the recent issue between the DCEC and the Gazette newspaper Seretse claim that the newspapers never approached her office before publishing the story. She said the search warrant and the need to access the Gazette offices were done within the confines of the law. “In the case at hand, without going into its finer details, the DCEC acted under the authority of court warrants for search, seizure and arrests issued by a magistrate.” The search warrant also exposed the incompetency of the courts of law. Gazette legal team were able to punch holes in the first search warrants produced by officers from the DCEC. Officers were forced to go back to seek a fresh search warrant. “The warrants were issued after application to court,” Seretse said.

“We were acting in good faith and in terms of the enabling statutes, we accept however, that those affected were entitled to plead their innocence, as all those accused of committing crimes are, but we do not agree that they were to disobey a court order authorizing a search and seizure”

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