Thursday, July 7, 2022

Govt unhappy with judgment in Nchindo case

Government is reportedly not pleased with the Court of Appeal judgement in the Nchindo land case. The Court declared that, among others things, Nchindo’s company, Tourism Development Company (TDC), must regain Plot 55720, also known as Sethoa Village.

The government believes that the judges overlooked the evidence of former President Festus Mogae.

In his evidence in chief,  Mogae had said that if he knew that the land was to be allocated to the former Managing Director of Debswana, Louis Nchindo, and not a company linked to Debswana, he would not have supported the allocation.

The government is also of the view that the judges should have unanimously recognised this vital evidence and confirmed it, said a source at the government enclave.

Sources say though Botswana is a constitutional democracy that respects the rule of law, the truth of the matter is that it is unhappy with the decision of the highest court in the land; in fact, it is disappointed.

“There is a process of internal consultation as we speak. The Government respects the decision but it is reluctant to accept it, especially the land that was supposed to have been forfeited to the state. That is government’s bone of contention now. The government still believes that there is still room for reclaiming the land,” said the source.

According to the source, the consultation process involves, among others, the Office of the President, the Attorney General, and the Directorate of Public Prosecution.

“This is a difficult one but the government is going to fight. It will depend on how it interprets the court judgement as was the case with Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) case. We expect the government to issue a statement after studying the judgment as to what is the way forward,” said the source.

Responding to Sunday Standard queries, Attorney General Chambers Principal Public Relations Officer, Lebotsang Mohutsiwa, declined to discuss government’s position on the case, saying it was still premature to do so.

“The DPP and AG are currently studying the judgment and do not consider it appropriate to comment at this time,” he said.

When the dealing with the forfeiture of Plot 55720, the three judges, Justice Lord Abernethy, Justice Isaac Lesetedi and Justice Lord Hamilton, said, “Whether or not to grant forfeiture order summarily was a matter of the learned Magistrate’s discretion. There is no indication that, in exercising that discretion, he took this evidence into account…the procedure adopted by the magistrate cannot be supported.┬á It did not follow the basic requirements of natural justice. To have granted the order in the manner that the magistrate did was wholly inappropriate. It was not proper exercise of his discretion.”

Former Regional Magistrate Lot Moroka and now High Court Judge had ordered that the land be forfeited to the state and his decision was confirmed by Justice Stephen Gaongalelwe who is now a Court of Appeal judge.

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