Lobatse High Court judge Lot Moroka on Friday convicted former employees of the Medical Central Stores (CMS) for having swindled the CMS of P21 million by pretending to have supplied CMS with pharmaceutical products while they had not.
The convicted former employees were Bushi Nthibo, Norman Maja, as well as Abraham Marumo, Patrick Cole and David Tumagole.
In his judgment, Moroka, freed Clement Molefe, Aroen Balole and Lebogang Kaisara, saying that the state had failed to prove how they had committed the offence.
Moroka said that, in all the four counts that the accused persons were facing, Nthibo had played a major role in that all the false documents that were produced by an accomplice witness who had pleaded guilty and sentenced to a jail term, were handed to Nthibo who was then working for the Ministry and made the payment by CMS through Bank of Botswana possible.
Seloka, the accomplice witness, had indicated that as soon as Nthibo had received the falsified documents, he had in all the cases placed them in a file on top of which he then wrote Bushi. All those files, he said, were brought before Court as part of the evidence.
Moroka said Seloka’s evidence needed to be treated with great care even though he was an accomplished witness. He said he was a credible witness because he had managed to withstand vigorous cross examination by six defense lawyers, an experience which was at times sarcastic.
Moroka, however, agreed that Seloka’s evidence in Court varied to some extent with what he said in his statement to the police as defense lawyers were saying but that his evidence remained credible in that it was corroborated by some facts surrounding the case.
As an example, he said that there was abundant evidence that other accused persons, like Maja, had travelled with him to South Africa to collect money from other accused persons during the time the crime was committed.
He said another accused person, Tumagole, had at or around the same time possessed an excess amount of money, which he gave to his girl friend and could not well explain as to where he got it from.
On Maja, he said that Seloka had told the Court that he was the one who brought the CMS stamp to him to put on the false documents he had fabricated and that he had at one stage accompanied him to South Africa to collect the stolen money.
Moroka also dismissed arguments by defense lawyer Duma Boko that he did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter connected to his client, Patrick Cole.
Mitigation and sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday this week.