Sunday, March 7, 2021

High Court interdicts BDF from proceeding with Spy equipment inquiry

Gaborone High Court Judge, Justice Key Dingake, has interdicted the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Board of Inquiry from proceeding with the inquiry into the alleged disappearance of intelligence surveillance equipment.

This was after Bayford and Associates and Kambai Attorneys representing Brigadier Peter Magosi and Sergeant Dzikamani Mothobi respectively approached the High Court to compel the BDF to furnish them with some documents and inspect exhibits prior to the hearing that was scheduled for April 29.

Granting the interim interdict, Justice Dingake noted that the two officers acted swiftly after the army denied them documents they sought.

If the applicants were not to be granted the temporary interdict, Dingake said, they would not get the substantial redress pending a main application that they are to launch relating to whether they are entitled to the documents that they sought.

Dingake found that there was no sufficient reason advanced by the BDF board to have the inquiry held on April 29 because it had known about the disappearance of the equipment for six years.

Earlier on, Magosi’s lawyer Jaoa Salbany argued that their clients had no objection to the inspection of the documents during the board of inquiry sitting but added that they be allowed to interview some witnesses prior to the commencement of the inquiry to enable the defence to prepare for the hearing.

He added that since the BDF had known about the alleged disappearance of the intelligence equipment from 2006 to 2014 there was no need to consider the convening of the board of inquiry sitting as an urgent matter.

”While is it is acceptable by both parties that that this is an investigative inquiry, the respondents do not view it as an investigative inquiry. For instance we are advised to refrain from interviewing witnesses appearing at the inquiry,” he said.

He added that they had established that there was no alternative remedy and if their clients were to be denied an interim interdict they stood to suffer irreparable harm.

Mothobi’s lawyer Onalethata Kambai also concurred with Salbany that if their clients were not to be granted the interim interdict they would be denied the right to be given a fair hearing.

State attorney, David Moloise, argued that the applicants had failed to demonstrate that the application be treated as a matter of urgency.

He said the scope of the inquiry requested the applicants to appear before the board of inquiry and explain what happened to the missing equipment. He said any finding of the inquiry, according to the BDF Act, could not be used against the applicants in future proceedings. He added that inquiry was a fact finding mission.
Dingake postponed the case to June 18.

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