The defence in the Masitara rape trial closed its case on Thursday with a defence witness adamant Masitara never initiated an out of court settlement amounting to P500, 000.
The witness, Idah Mmopiemang, who is Masitara’s niece, denied ever being Masitara’s agent who played a pivotal role in making sure the initiative was a success. She denied ever cooking up such a settlement.
Rebutting questions that were fired by Leatile Dambe, the state prosecutor at the Extension II magistrate court, Mmopiemang denied ever proposing the meetings that were held at Block 5 and in Otse to entice the complainant to settle the case out of court. She informed the court that the complainant’s sisters, namely Rosah Tlhabano and Diane Sayed, were the ones who initiated the mission to settle matters out of court.
Mmopiemang further denied ever conspiring with Masitara to lure the complainant to accept P500, 000 for the case to be settled amicably out of court.
She told the court that the complainant’s family was the one who initiated payment of P500, 000 for the case to be settled out of court.
She cited Rosah Tlhabano’s visits to her work place at Princess Marina Hospital on May 8, 2003, and at her home on May 15, 2003 as plain examples of how serious the complainant’s family was to settle out of court.
She further told the court that in the last meeting that was held in Otse, the complainant plainly demanded P500, 000 and pleaded with them to pay the money through her attorneys, Bayford Attorneys. She refuted evidence before court that the complainant cried at the Otse meeting in protest of payment.
Asked by Dambe why she allowed the meetings to continue when she knew the case was before court with his uncle having pleaded not guilty and herself having signed a surety document for the appearance of the accused in court, Mmopiemang said she was driven merely by curiosity, wanting to know how the family wanted to propose how to settle the case.
“I did not initiate the meetings. I was only driven by curiosity without any intention to temper with justice,” Mmopiemang said.
Asked why she did not report the complainant’s family to the police for trying to extort money from his uncle, the now agitated Mmopiemang said she found the move unnecessary.
“I imagined my uncle would do so,” she answered.
Asked why she did not inform his uncle Masitara about the meetings that involved him, she replied that she also found it unnecessary.
Dambe, however, concluded Mmopiemang did not report to the police because she knew very well that they were the ones who initiated the out of court settlement and, by reporting the matter, she would have reported herself to the police along with her uncle whose bail conditions warned him against interfering with witnesses.
“It is strange your worship that the witness never communicated to her uncle about the meetings. She had earlier on in her evidence in chief said she treats his uncle with high esteem and that she dearly respects him. It is strange that when people want to obtain money from her uncle she would not alert him,” Dambe said.
Dambe, therefore, concluded the witness was trying to conceal evidence that his uncle participated in the mission and asked, “How could she be curiosity driven to the extend of attending a meeting in Otse?”
Mmopiemang further refuted allegations that she was Masitara’s agent who received instructions from him.
“I attended these meetings on my own free-will. I was not instructed by my uncle. I was without his blessings. I attended the meetings without his knowledge and, more importantly, his authority,” she said.
Walking in the corridors outside the courtroom, Mmopiemang whispered she would never set foot in court again.
Masitara is a renowned businessman and public figure whose case has attracted media and public attention.
With some of the exhibits said to have disappeared in police custody, the general public is keenly awaiting the judgment, which will be delivered on May 31, 2007.