Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Judgment on Mhlauli case reserved

Lobatse High Court judge, Key Dingake, has reserved judgement in a case in which Elvidges Mhlauli, the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, is appealing against a sentence of seven years imprisonment for corruption.

Before then, the lawyer for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Bafi Nlanda, had, on ground one in which Mhlauli was found guilty of abuse of office, submitted that it was not true that Gaborone Chief Magistrate Lot Moroka had erred in convicting Mhlauli for abuse of office.

On the statement made by Victor Rantshabeng that the Department of Lands had come up with a policy of ‘first come first served’, which the defence lawyer submitted favoured Mhlauli, Nlanda said that this was not true and that his evidence was that the Department of Lands followed the ‘first come first served’, policy particularly when applicants were competing for the same piece of land. He said that the policy ensured that there was fairness in the allocations and that Rantshabeng had been consistent on this.

He added that Rantshabeng had, in a savingram, expressed surprise that Eddie Norman had been recommended to be allocated the land when Kadimo Oremeng’s application had come first and was, according to one employee of the Department, better than that of Norman.

Rantshabeng, Nlanda submitted, had, in a letter he had written to Mhlauli, advised him that the allocation should be allowed to wait to ensure that the principle of ‘first come first served’ was applied.

On ground two, in which the defence had submitted that Moroka had erred and misdirected himself in finding that the appellant was guilty of abuse of office in allocating to Eddie Norman land east of Game City and that Mhlauli and Rantshabeng had given an explanation as to why Oremeng could not be allocated such land as well as land at Block 5 under KOVK, Nlanda submitted that it was not correct that they had given an explanation for this.
He said that the truth was that Oremeng’s application was rejected without any reasons, adding that, even in the savingram dated 28 April 1998 to Rantshabeng, Mhlauli did not state reasons why Oremeng could not be allocated the land next to Game City.

Nlanda said that Mhlauli did not give reasons why Oremeng’s application had to fail and why Norman’s had to succeed. He also submitted that Mhlauli implied that he was directed by a Minister that an allocation be made to Norman, because he had identified the land in question and that, though he agrees with the suggestion of ‘first come first served’, it would be difficult to apply the principle with respect to people who have identified unzoned and unserviced plots on their own initiatives.

The savingram, he said, ignored the fact that Oremeng had identified the piece of land in question first and that, therefore, the allocation was made to Norman. The Department of Lands was acting on instructions from Mhlauli who had directed how the allocation should be made.

This, Nlanda said, makes the submission by the defence that Mhlauli had explained why allocation would not be made to Oremeng not true. He said that when he wrote a savingram of the 28 April, 1998 he had not anticipated any Court proceedings in which he was going to be charged with an offence and be required to defend himself.


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