Special Elected Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Unity Dow has raised concerns about the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) not getting facts right before they rush to court and premature arrests when handling cases.
She told parliament that what seems to happen here in Botswana is: suspicion, arrest, charge, trial, investigation, interruption of trial, continuation of investigation. Dow stated that the problem with the latter, which is premature arrests, are twofold. She added that this is unfair to suspects as some suspicions will, upon proper investigations, be found to be baseless and even where there is a basis for suspicion, not all instances of breach of regulations rise to the level of criminality. She said where information on suspected criminality is based on sound facts, premature arrests and/or charges can undermine the chances of success at trial.
“I think there has been a tradition in this country that is gaining traction that must be reversed. In most countries especially in white-collar crimes the sequence is this, you get a report, you investigate and when you are sure you arrest and charge but in this case, it seems anybody can make any charge against anybody and immediately there is an arrest and charge and then there is an investigation. It cannot be like that, that sequencing is wrong,” said Dow.
Dow said one cannot arrest, charge and then investigate, adding that whenever one hears a Prosecutor in court saying “my Lord, I seek an adjournment so that I can have additional order for further investigation,” one should know there is a problem, to investigate what.
Dow observed that usually these can take two to three years and when everybody thinks the investigation is dead but underground, there are investigations, adding that one should let those people take their money.
“You let them talk on the phone because you wiretap them legally for good cause and over time, you build your case and therefore when you come in two years or three years’ time and charge so and so with this particular evidence that is solid,” she said.
She further stated that in terms of the rules, once there is a charge, then one has to turn over the evidence to the other side. She stated that one is handing over evidence even before they conclude their investigations and that is where the problem is.
Dow observed that because locally people are sue-happy country and keen to accuse each other, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is always running over when somebody used a chair improperly, they investigate. She added that the clamor to basically deal with corruption, sometimes she thinks they overreach.
“My suggestion is that, the DPP ba kgobe kgetsi. They must get their facts right before they rush to court. I am not talking about a particular case, I am just talking in general, that you do not get a report about so and so today, and then the following day you are charging them. That is not how it works, if we really want to get results,” said Dow.