Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Lionjanga as guilty and as innocent as Minister Seretse ÔÇô advocate Pilane

Advocate Sidney Pilane who is acting for convicted former Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) Executive Chairman, Armando Lionjanga, this week told Lobatse High Court that Minister of Defence and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse, is as guilty and as innocent as his client.

When making submissions in an appeal against Lionjanga’s conviction and three-year jail term, which has been wholly suspended for two years, Pilane accused the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) of mounting selective and discriminatory investigations and prosecution against his client.

Lionjanga was convicted of corruption for participating in a number of PPADB meetings that assessed a tender bid by Eastgate Enterprises in which his sister Alice Makgekgenene and nephew Kagiso Makgekgenene are directors. Minister Seretse, who sat alongside Lionjanga in the meetings between January 22 and February 27, is a family friend of the two Eastgate Enterprises directors.

Pilane argued that Magistrate Lot Moroka ought not to have convicted Lionjanga because he was not alone in declaring social interest in Eastgate on the 20th of March 2003, in not repeating the declarations at the subsequent meetings in which Eastgate Enterprises was on the agenda and in participating in all meetings, including the one of the 20 March 2003 in which Eastgate Enterprises was being discussed.

Pilane said these facts notwithstanding, the DCEC investigated the matter only in respect of Lionjanga and not Minister Seretse. He further argued that when DCEC and DPP decided to charge and prosecute Lionjanga and leave out Minister Seretse, it must have been known to both that Lionjanga and Seretse were materially exactly at the same position and that if Lionjanga was guilty of contravening a section of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act, so was minister Seretse. Conversely, if minister Seretse was innocent so was Lionjanga.

Pilane further pointed out that no explanation of this glaring discrimination was sought by the Village Magistrate Court nor was one offered by the prosecution although it was raised during the trial. No argument was offered by prosecution in answer to the discrimination nor did the magistrate’s court make a comment even in the judgment on the matter.

He said all this leaves only one compelling conclusion: That Lionjanga was not prosecuted because either DCEC or DPP thought him guilty, but that it was made in bad faith that could not be applied to Seretse because he is a Cabinet Minister.

He argued that both Seretse and Lionjanga are innocent and both the DCEC and DPP were aware of this and the decision to prosecute Lionjanga was made in bad faith and was discriminatory against Lionjanga “in terms of our Constitution.”

Pilane said his client was denied protection of the law secured in the Constitution and that no section of the Constitution as it might be argued permits either DCEC or DPP to engage in selective, discriminatory investigations and prosecutions made in bad faith.

He further argued that the Constitution can not be construed as permitting DCEC and DPP to exercise their powers arbitrarily, whimsically or capriciously and in contravention of the Constitution. That in the present case there is nothing which permits that Lionjanga should be discriminated against when it comes to his prosecution. Lobatse High Court judge Lakheinder Walia has reserved judgment.

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The Telegraph October 21

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 21, 2020.