Just when everybody thought the trial against former minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse, will commence in earnest in January next year, a tussle over cabinet minutes threatens to delay the case.
Seretse is facing a count of corruption and is accused of failing to declare to President Ian Khama his interest in his former company, RFT Botswana, a company that subsequently went on to win a Botswana Police tender under the ministry Seretse formerly headed.
Following an order for the state to furnish the defence with cabinet minutes, the defence received a shocker after the prosecution declared that they would not give Seretse cabinet minutes because the minutes were not part of the prosecution’s case.
The Prosecution served the defence with a statement from the Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale, indicating that cabinet never met to discuss the tender and it is an adjudicating entity, prompting the defence lawyer, Parks Tafa, to dismiss it as unhelpful.
“We are not entirely impressed that the accused’s rights are being trampled upon,” stated Tafa.
Tafa told the court that, as the defence, they are interested in accessing cabinet minutes.
He said that it was disturbing that up to now the prosecution has not given an explanation as to why it has failed to deliver or comply with the order.
Tafa stated that the defence wants the documents urgently to prepare for trial scheduled for 21st of February next year.
However, responding for the state Principal State Council, Mpho Letswalo said that despite furnishing the defence with certain declarations gratuitously it was not obliged to give them cabinet minutes.
“We are not using those minutes so why should we be compelled to,” Letshwao stated. He added that the order issued by Magistrate Barnabas Nyamadazabo last month did not compel the DPP to give the defence access to material that, as the prosecution, did not intend to use for the trial.
“They can’t use us to get them,” protested Letshwao.
The endless exchanges that ensued resulted in the court adjourning to next week Thursday to give the prosecution time to consult further on the issue.
Seretse wants to be given access to cabinet memos for the period of 17 May 2008 and 18 June 2008.This is a time in which he is accused of failing to disclose to Khama ‘that a company (RFT) in which he was shareholder and director had entered into a contract with the Botswana Police for supply, delivery and commissioning of Aviation Ground Support Equipment.