Friday, December 4, 2020

DCEC probes Sunday Standard

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) broke the law and probably lied to Broadhurst Principal Magistrate to secure a search warrant as part of its investigation to uncover Sunday Standard news sources.

The Sunday Standard is in possession of a search warrant, illegally obtained by DCEC officer, Oteng Seemule on May 26th to enter and search the house of another officer suspected of leaking information to Sunday Standard investigative reporters.

Lawyer acting for the alleged Sunday Standard source, Dick Bayford of Bayford and Associates wrote last week to the Broadhurst Principal Magistrate, Munashe Ndlovu that in executing the warrant, “Mr Seemule explained that the warrant was obtained in aid of a DCEC investigation against client on allegations that he had been leaking official information to Sunday Standard, a weekly newspaper published in Botswana.”

Bayford’s client is among a number of DCEC officers who are currently under investigation for allegedly leaking confidential information to the Sunday Standard.

Bayford pointed out that the DCEC obtained the warrant illegally because, “an allegation of leaking of official information to a newspaper would not ground an offence under Part 1V of the Act. Therefore, if the application for the warrant was made on the strength of this allegation, same was erroneously sought and erroneously granted.”

Bayford further stated that, “in addition, if the officer applying for the warrant stated to the Magistrate under Oath that same was made relative to a suspicion of an offence under Party1V of the Act, knowing well that same was on account of some other suspicion not covered under Part1V, this could give rise to a possible offence of perjury.”

The warrant, a copy of which has been passed to the Sunday Standard was applied for and issued under Section 13 of the DCEC Act. Section 13 empowers a magistrate to whom an application is made to issue a warrant if they are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that there is “in a premises, place, vessel, boat, aircraft or other vehicle sought to be entered and searched anything which is or contains evidence of the commissioning of any of the offences referred to in part 1V of the Act.”

Part1V of the Act enumerates corruption and economic crime offences.

Indications are that the DCEC officers did not present written sworn statement to the Broadhurst Magistrates Court to support their application for the warrant as is required by law.

Bayford in his letter further states: “needless to say, a warrant such as this one in question constitutes a serious intrusion to an individual’s fundamental rights to his person and property and must only be issued uberrimae fidei ( utmost good faith) and within the parameters of the law. It is for this reason that the seriousness of this matter cannot be over emphasized.

“In the premises, for purposes of advising client of his legal rights, we are instructed to request from yourself a copy of the record relative to the application of the warrant, which should include a testament of the information made on Oath to the principal Magistrate in support of the application.”

This is not the first time that a magistrate has illegally issued a warrant in a case involving the Sunday Standard. Broadhurst Chief Magistrate, Taboka Slave two years ago issued an arrest warrant against Sunday Standard editor, Outsa Mokone although no sworn statement had been presented to her in support of the application as required by law. The Broadhurst Magistrate Court has no records of the proceedings relating to the warrant, save a copy of the warrant itself.

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The Telegraph December 2

Digital edition of The Telegraph, December 2, 2020.