Last week, the Francistown Chief Magistrate, Mokwadi Gabanagae, maintained a temporary order in a corruption case involving some officials in the Ministry of Lands and Housing until the 5th August this year.
The temporary order was granted on the 4th of June this year to the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP), requesting that the defendants not develop their plots or properties pending the trial in court.
However, last week the defendants and the state appeared in court to give the defense a chance to prove why they cannot conform with the order.
“I want to plead with the court to make sure that the case not be delayed as it infringes on the rights of my clients,” said Phazha Kgalemang, who is part of the defence team.
Most of the defense lawyers conformed with the order, indicating that they do not have any qualms with it. The court, however, indicated that part of the defense that is against the order should come before court for a hearing on why the order should not be implemented during the set date.
However, the defense also put to the court’s attention that it would be difficult for the court to proceed as some of the defendants were not in court therefore it would be complex to establish that they agree with the order or not and pleaded for a summons to be served to them.
The court order was granted in the absence of other parties and Sunday Standard is also informed that about ten defendants are opposing the order.
“We have reached an agreement that those parties who will be opposing the order should file their application within 14 days and if there is anything to respond to, the DPP will do so a week after,” said Samantha Mbikiwa who represents the DPP.
Between October 2008 and May 2009 in Francistown 35 defendants, acting jointly and in consent as public officers in the Ministry of Lands and Housing, allegedly accepted huge sums of money as inducement, bribery or reward for illegally issuing title deeds to different individuals and companies.
If the court finds them guilty the said property and the land will be confiscated.
Sunday Standard investigations reveal that 35 plots were sold in Francistown and P 3 million is said to have been paid to the suspects. A legal advisor in the Ministry of Lands and Housing is also alleged to be involved in the scam.
The defendants will be read a charge sheet on the same date of 5th August 2010.
Part of the defense lawyers are said to be against the order because they claim that their clients had their assets confiscated although they had not used any corrupt proceeds to buy those assets.