Friday, August 12, 2022

Expelled police officers lose case against government

Two former Botswana Police Service (BPS) officers, Utlwanang Menwane and Obusitswe Ngubo who were fired from the police service for a single count of corruption lost their case on Friday. The pair had applied for a stay of prosecution before the Francistown High Court Judge, Modiri Letsididi. The two former officers who were represented by attorney Kesegofetse Molosiwa of Jeremia Attorneys argued that their case dragged for a long time and should have long been concluded. It is alleged that on the 29 of November 2006 at Ikageng Ward in Selibe Phikwe, the applicants accepted P2 000 as bribery from one Tabona Tsheko being an inducement for them to prevent his prosecution. The two are alleged to have charged Tsheko with an offence of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The matter was registered before the Selibe Phikwe Magistrate Court on the 12th of March 2007. The two accused officers have since pleaded not guilty to the offence. After successfully obtaining leave from the presiding magistrate to seek permanent stay of their prosecution, the two approached Justice Letsididi of the Francistown High Court to endorse their permanent stay of prosecution. Their lawyer, Molosiwa had submitted before the high court during trial that the case be dismissed as it had taken too long to be concluded. He relied on section 10(1) of the Botswana Constitution which provides that, “If any person is charged with a criminal offence, then unless the charge is withdrawn the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established or recognized by the law. Molosiwa also submitted a table of chronology of events in a bid to assist the court to determine if indeed the case has been delayed as alleged and particularly where to apportion blame. He maintained that an inordinately unexplained delay in bringing the appellants to trial for almost six years negates the concept of a fair trial. He said that their case was registered in 2007 and there is still no progress and the appellants had made 37 court appearances. He had further argued that with charges hanging over their heads for a long time, the applicants have been psychologically and emotionally tortured. On the other hand the defense attorney, Carlos Diundu from the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) argued that the accused persons partly contributed to the delay of their case as they did not appear in court at times. Diundu maintained that although the constitution provides for the accused persons to be tried within a reasonable time, it does not particularly state or define the exact time that should be taken to try an accused person. He also said that the court should consider the fact that corruption is a serious offence. He said corruption cases do not only affect the public, but also tarnish the image and reputation of the country, including its relationship with other countries particularly on business transactions and trade. Giving his verdict on Friday, Justice Letsididi dismissed the application saying that the two officers are partly to blame as they contributed to the delay in the case. He said that evidence is clear from the prosecution that sometimes the applicants did not appear in court when they were required to do so. “As per the evidence from the state, the applicants contributed in the delay of their case as they missed court sessions at times. Application for permanent stay of prosecution in this case is dismissed. The matter will be referred back to Selibe Phikwe Magistrate Court for continuation of trial and should be complete within three months from today’s ruling. If the matter does not proceed within the three months then it should be dismissed,” said the Judge.

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