Property magnate Seyed Jamali has filed a lawsuit against the Botswana Government demanding more than P30 million in damages following charges of corrupting an official employed by Government which were subsequently dropped.
Jamali who was charged together with Deputy Permanent Secretary, Victor Rantshabeng and his company Universal Builders, were granted a permanent stay of prosecution in 201l after Justice Michael Leburu found that they could not be afforded a fair trial as entrenched in the constitution.
The judge found that there had been unreasonable delay in their prosecution in sequence of which the two respondents would be irreparably prejudiced if the prosecution was to be proceeded with.
Seven years later, Jamali through his lawyers, Kanjabanga and Associates, states in court papers that in initiating the prosecution, the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) was actuated by an improper, indirect and malicious motive of harming his name, reputation, his business and that of his company.
Jamali states that the charges levelled against him and his prosecution were malicious and without probable cause.
“The former director of Directorate of Economic Crime and Corruption Mr Tymon Katholo had during the 2004 Lesedi Judicial Commission in his testimony cleared plaintiffs (Jamali and Universal Builders) of any wrong doing as regards the allocation of the Maruapula plot, following investigations and had stated that as a result no prosecution could take place,” states Jamali’s lawyer.
The lawyer further states that the Lesetedi Judicial Commission on Land allocation in Gaborone had cleared Jamali and his company of any wrong doing in the acquisition of the Maruapula plot.
They added that the then Minister of lands and housing Dr Margaret Nasha who reduced the price upon allocation of the plot to Universal Building made a statement in which she stated that she was not influenced by anyone in making a decision to grant the company price reduction.
“The DCEC had offered plaintiffs immunity against prosecution if they falsely testified and incriminated one Victor Rantshabeng .The said statement was to the effect that the 2nd Plaintiff (Jamali) was to be a witness and the Plaintiffs would not be prosecuted before a court of law,” the lawyers said in court papers.
They further say that the State so “acted without reasonable or probable cause knowing that the conclusion of sale agreement of property for good and valuable consideration by the promise or prospect of any valuable consideration to be received by the public officer as contemplated in this section allegedly contravened.”
The lawyers state that their clients were subjected to public humiliation and embarrassment and he was unable to obtain loans from commercial banks. They also state that Universal Builders credit facility was subjected to stringent terms being imposed by its banks who threatened to recall such facilities.
“The Government of Botswana became unwilling to deal with the plaintiffs and rejected tender documents of the first plaintiff and further delays approval of the first plaintiff’s existing projects, and further suffered loss of business and profits,” papers before court state.
As a result of the foregoing, Universal Builders suffered a loss to its business n the sum of P25 million and the second plaintiff suffered public humiliation and insult in the sum of P5 million.
They are also demanding interest in the sum of P25 million and P5 million at the rate of 10 percent per annum to date of payment.
Replying, the Attorney General denied that the DPP maliciously charged and prosecuted Jamali and his company.
“In instituting the criminal proceedings against the plaintiffs the prosecution was motivated by a genuine desire to bring a suspected criminal justice for a crime he had committed,” the Attorney General said.
It also denied that the testimony of Katholo at the Lesetedi Judicial Commission cleared Jamali and his company of any wrong doing.
The Attorney General also denied that “the Lesetedi Judicial Service Commission of Enquiry into State ;And Allocations in Gaborone had cleared the plaintiffs of any wrong doing in the acquisition of Maruapula plot.”
It says that what the Commission set out to determine with respect to the said allocation was whether the procedure for land allocation was followed and whether the purchase price determined was also within procedure.
The Commission ultimately held the view that the allocation was not done procedurally and it fell short of venturing its views on whether the purchase price determination was procedural.
Attorney General also denied that at no stage did mention any immunity or that Jamali would not be brought to justice if investigations elsewhere revealed that he was involved in criminality. “There most certainly was no mention of giving false statement against anyone let alone Mr Victor Rantshabeng,” said Attorney General further denying that is responsible for any financial loss that Jamali could have lost as result of the case.