Prosecutors in the Francistown land scam case involving over 33 accused persons have temporarily withheld an application for the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Moloko Ursula Mokgokong after the defence assured the court that the accused would attend court at the next mention on March 4.
Mokgokong, a lawyer who was seconded to the Lands Department in Francistown, is the first accused and has never appeared since the beginning of the case in August last year.
However, her lawyer, Tshekiso Tshekiso, informed Regional Magistrate North, Lorraine Makati-Lesang, that he had received communication from Mack Bahuma Attorneys laws firm that they had been instructed to become co-defenders in the massive land fraud case.
“The accused person has instructed Unoda Mack to be her co-counsel. We have not filed opposing affidavits for the warrant of arrest application. We have been in touch with the prosecution concerning the attendance of the first accused person. We have agreed that the first accused will attend court on the 4th of March. In the meantime we shall discuss the bail conditions that should be attached to the first accused. Whether we will reach an agreement on the conditions will determine what will happen on the 4th or we will file opposing affidavits,” submitted Tshekiso.
He further asked the court if the court record had been transferred to the High Court to which the presiding magistrate answered that the record had been prepared although she was not sure if it had already been transmitted.
The magistrate agreed to put on hold the warrant of arrest application until the 4th of March but said that all the defending lawyers in the case must be notified of the set down.
In an affidavit filed in support of the warrant of arrest application, Morutuludi Tshwanelo, an anti-corruption officer with the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) deposed that Mokgokong had failed to appear before the court since 5th August 2010 and the succeeding mention dates in respect of the criminal matter from which the instant application emanates.
Tshwanelo deposed further that Mokgokong knew about the investigations as early as November 2009 when the DCEC conducted the investigations at the Lands office where she was employed, adding that they occasionally visited her office and made searches in her presence as part of the investigations.
“At the time, the investigations were still at an initial stage. At that time we had her in our minds as a suspect but she had not been warned or cautioned for any offence as investigations were still ongoing,” deposed Tshwanelo.
He stated that when the investigation team was about to reach the pinnacle of its investigations around January 2010, his office received a fresh report against Mokgokong of an attempt to bribe some members of the investigation team to sabotage the investigation process.
Tshwanelo said he was personally approached by Florence Nteta in December 2009 with a proposal to sabotage the investigations and that Florence had informed him that she was acting for and on behalf of Mokgokong and others.
“Such approach led to further investigations against the first accused and other persons for charges against sections 24 and 25 of the Corruption and economic Crime Act. A case has already been registered before the Francistown Magistrate Court relating to such attempts,” said the lead investigator.
He said when the matter was first mentioned in court on the 5th of August 2010, the accused was nowhere to be seen and at no occasion in the life of the matter has Mokgokong attended court notwithstanding that she is an accused person.
Tshwanelo further deposed that they believe together with the prosecution that Mokgokong has absconded as she is no longer resident at her house in Francistown and she has further withdrawn her children from their schools and their whereabouts are unknown.
“It should be recalled, and it is indeed part of the case docket, that accused has her roots in South Africa and has held South African citizenship, Botswana being simply, her adopted country. There is no evidence that she has relinquished such citizenship,” he stated in his affidavit.
He added that on the 4th of June 2010 the DPP secured a provisional order restraining the sale of some of her properties being a motor vehicle, various plots in the northern side of Botswana including her Francistown residence as well as her account with First National Bank.
Tshwanelo said he said he received information that the accused had offered to dispose of all her property in Francistown as a package and that her disappearance coupled with the withdrawal of her children from school prompted the application for the warrant of arrest in order to commence extradition proceedings now that it appears Mokgokong has no intention of attending court to answer to the charges.
The other accused persons in the case are Julius Selemogwe, Reuben Tshule, Archibald Mosojane, Victor Kegone Sebina, Steward Junior Nekati, Winson Boikanyo Keosimile, Galane Calvin Setimela, Mpho Modiakgotla, Thrust Bore (Pty) Ltd, Tlotlo Sonny Morekisi, Sylvia Onkgomoditse Chapi, Tshwanelo Percy Mmeke, Margaret Nkomba, Banabotlhe Gaotlhobogwe, Kebonyeng Samu and Tshepo Mmopiemang.
Others are Eric Molokwane, Malebogo Florence Moremi, Chandapiwa Parker Fowler, Arnimus Sanoboda Ndlovu, Bango Trading (represented by James Moffat), Kebareng Maruatona, Monty Builders (represented by Richard Mutasa), Devotee Investments (Pty) Ltd, Richard Mutasa (in his personal capacity), Inchidzi Mabutho, Maretha Kemiso, Samuel Motshabi, Daniel Morupisi, Ishamel baruti, Booster Nknoma and Wincott Samaka.
The state is represented by Kebuang Mokaloba and Gofaone Molaletsi in the matter.