Land mogul, Seyed Abolfazl Jamali, and his co-accused, Victor Rantshabeng, and Universal Builders, were last week granted permission to interact with their lawyers, Lerumo Mogobe and Moses Kadye, after the High Court amended their bail conditions.
The amendments were made by consent after state attorneys, Mpho Letsoalo and David Moloise, did not oppose an urgent application by Saadique Kebonang, Tshiamo Rantao and Gabriel Kanjabanga, who sought to overturn an earlier ruling by Regional Magistrate Barnabas Nyamazabo that Jamali and Rantshabeng should not communicate or interfere with Mogobe and Kadye as they were state witnesses.
Jamali’s defence in the landmark case was dealt a crippling blow when the state, represented by Director of Public Prosecutions, Leonard Sechele, made an application that Mogobe and Moses Kadye should recuse themselves as they had given written statements to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime.
While the two insisted that they were not aware that they would later be summoned as state witnesses, Sechele argued that they effectively surrendered themselves to the state when they gave DCEC investigators written statements.
“The attorneys compromised themselves and jeopardised their relationship with Jamali. They rendered themselves available to the state and should, therefore, withdraw their services to Jamali,” argued Sechele.
In his founding affidavit, Jamali argued that Mogobe has been his attorney on a retainer for over 15 years. He submitted that they were not aware that Mogobe and Kadye were listed as state witnesses as they had not been furnished with the list of state witnesses earlier.
“We did not have a problem with the state’s application that we should not interfere with the listed witnesses until after a quick perusal of the list, whereupon we found that our attorneys were listed as state witnesses,” said Jamali.
He also insists that Mogobe informed him that he was never made aware that he will be called as a state witness, and that his inclusion in the list was clearly an ambush.
Kebonang, acting for Rantshabeng, swiftly made an application that Mogobe and Kadye should be removed from the list of state witnesses, an application opposed by the state.
“This application was triggered by the fact that the inclusion of our attorneys violated our constitutional right to be represented by attorneys of our choice,” argued Jamali.
Nyamadzabo later ruled that Jamali should not communicate and interfere with any of the state witnesses, and ordered Mogobe to recuse himself as Jamali’s attorney.
However, Jamali argues that Nyamazabo did not apply himself to the merits of the case, more so that Mogobe’s statement has very little evidential value. He also said Nyamazabo did not consider the damage that Mogobe’s recusal would do to his business’ day to day operations.
“Because of Nyamazabo’s order I am not able to consult with Mogobe on matters that affect my livelihood without running afoul of the interference tag,” he said.
Jamali and Rantshabeng were accorded relief last week when Justice Key Dingake amended their bail conditions and allowed them to communicate and interact with Mogobe and Kadye. He also granted a withdrawal on the application as per the amicable agreement of both parties. However, the consent order signed by both parties limits communication between the accused and their attorneys to other matters that they may have an interest in, and not to the case before the courts. Both parties were ordered to pay the costs of the application.