Saturday, June 3, 2023

Defense lawyer implores judge to throw case out

Gaborone attorney, Tony Matila, on Friday asked Gaborone Chief Magistrate Lot Moroka to rule that his client, Ephraim Kelaeng, the former principal water engineer at the Water Affairs Department who is facing corruption charges in relation to the award of the P80 million Serowe Emergency Water Supply tender, has no case to answer.

Matila submitted that the main thing to do at this stage of the case is not to consider whether the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt, but whether there is evidence that a reasonable tribunal can convict an accused person basing on it.
Charges against Kelaeng, Matila said, are that he had willingly and knowingly given false information. Further to that, he did it knowing that it would adversely affect tender valuation against ASA Enterprises and that he did so with intent.

Matila said after having come up with such charges against Kelaeng, the evidence that was brought up to support the charges was very contradictory.
As an example of the contradictory evidence brought by the defense witnesses, he said that the evidence by Joseph Nyandiko, who was once Kelaeng’s junior at Water Affairs and who had earlier on testified in Court, was that he was instructed by Kelaeng to discredit ASA Enterprises and write a malicious report against it and was discredited by Zibo Makosha, an engineer from Geoflux consulting firm.
Besides that, he said, Kelaeng’s report totally corresponds with that of the consulting engineers, Geoflux, in many ways.

In conclusion, he said that prosecution evidence had, through cross examination, proved to be discredited and that it could not be relied upon to convict Kelaeng.

Afterwards, the prosecution team, consisting of Jabu Oteng and Joram Matomela, asked for a postponement to next Wednesday to give them time to prepare their submissions.

Earlier on in the case, Geoflux consulting firm engineer Makosha, under cross examination, admitted on several instances that there had been time when ASA Enterprises had failed to perform as expected of them because they did not have manpower and machinery on site.

He also admitted that most of the delays in carrying out the tender were as a direct result of the contractor’s failure to provide manpower and machinery. Makosha also told the Court that the Botswana Power Corporation was to blame for some of the delay in providing power to pump water from the wells.

Another state witness, a former resident engineer at the Serowe project, Amos Keabetswe, also testified that there were always complaints about the availability of manpower and machinery at the site of the project but denied that the delay in project completion was purely as a result of that. According to him, the other cause of the delay was that the reservoir had to be moved from the site that was initially set for it to the other one after realization that the soil type where it was initially pegged was not suitable for it.


Read this week's paper