Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Magistrate allows appeal process in Seretse case

The trial in which ex-minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse, faces a count of corruption will be stayed until the High Court has listened and decided on an appeal by the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Regional Magistrate Barnabas Nyamadzabo has ruled.

“While I find merit in what the defence said I have nevertheless decided that the appeal process should be allowed,” adding that this would give the High Court an opportunity to make findings on whether his court was wrong in his ruling against the state. The magistrate had earlier during the course of the week ruled that there was nothing improper about the manner in which the proceedings were conducted.

The decision by the prosecution to take up the issue with the High Court follows an objection by the prosecution that on January 25 during trial, the defence cross-examined a state witness on the basis of two statements from other witnesses. The prosecution argues that this amounts to hearsay and might prejudice the state’s case.

Nyamadzabo also ordered the executive level of the Regional magistrate court to make arrangements for the case record to be typed and made available for both the defense and the prosecution as well as be remitted to the High Court.

The magistrate also announced that the case would be mentioned on the 28th of March. At this scheduled mention the prosecution is expected to update the court on the appeal process.
Earlier during the day, defence lawyer Parks Tafa criticized the appeal as abuse of court process.
He urged Nyamadzabo to continue with trial, arguing that the appeal papers were flawed, which could not be accorded the proper respect.

“They are making up a story the court made a finding on hearsay evidence, they are no grounds of appeal,” Tafa lashed out at the prosecution. He said that it is in the interest of justice for the case to continue.

Tafa said Seretse deserved justice, irrespective of his roots. He also argued that the prosecution is unsure about its case.Tafa said that thanks to the prosecution, Seretse’s personal life and career is at a standstill.

Appearing for the prosecution, Mpho Letsoalo argued that if the case were to proceed without the guidance of the High Court the case was at risk to be declared a mistrial.

“A stay of proceedings is desirous and the state will be prejudiced if such is not granted,” Letshalo told the court. He said that the appeal had already been allocated a judge and added that the prosecution is hopeful that dates would be availed soon.

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