Saturday, July 2, 2022

Six acquitted, discharged in DCEC officer bribery case

The Francistown Magistrate Court has acquitted and discharged six people charged with a single count of corrupting a Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) officer.

The six, Moloko Ursula Mokgokong, Emmanuel Richard Mutasa, Reuben Tshule, Julius Selemogwe, Thapelo Duna and Keolopile Simane are alleged to have sometime in December 2009 corrupted a DCEC officer in Francistown.

Moloko Ursula Mokgokong, Reuben Tshule and Julius Selemogwe are all public servants employed at the Department of Lands in Francistown. All the accused persons have pleaded not guilty to the offence.
The prosecution alleged that Duna approached Tshwanelo Morutuntshi (the DCEC investigator) sometime in December 2009 and asked him to steal a docket, which contained a case involving the first, third and fourth accused persons.

In his testimony, Morutuntshi said in January 2010 he was approached by Selemogwe who requested to steal certain files for him for a financial reward.

He added that the following day he was also approached by Duna on the issue who produced P4 000 as a reward for the theft of the said docket. Morutuntshi instead took the money to his DCEC office to be counted and kept safely while doing his investigation.

Another witness, also from the DCEC office, testified that she was also approached by Duna and Simane to approach Tlhalerwa and coerce him into stealing the docket.

At the close of the prosecution case, the defence attorneys submitted a no case to answer.
The defense further submitted that the material ingredients of the offence under section 24 subsection 2 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act have not been established.

The defence submitted that the accused persons never attempted to influence the corruption busters to steal the file. The defense also pointed to contradictory evidence adduced by the DCEC officer during trial.

Defence Attorney Unoda Mack said there is conflicting evidence as to whether the DCEC officer acted in his private or official capacity and, as such, the charge cannot stand as the state failed to establish the capacity on which the DCEC officer was acting on.

The defence further argued that there was no clear evidence that the DCEC officer was approached by the accused persons. They also argued that the state failed to establish if Duna was the one communicating with the DCEC officer or that the money that was allegedly recovered was taken from the accused persons.

On the other hand, the state submitted that the DCEC officer acted in both his personal and official capacity so that the element requiring an officer who is accused to have endeavoured to influence him is established.

It further maintained that an amount of P4 000 was given by the accused persons as valuable consideration.

The prosecution also argued that the DCEC officer gave consistent evidence in respect of all material elements of the offence, that is, being approached by the 5th and 6th accused as well as the subsequent receipt of the money produced as evidence in court.

Giving his ruling on the matter, Regional Magistrate, Mokwadi Gabanagae, said there was not enough evidence suggesting that the 5th accused had been communicating with the DCEC at any point.

“In light of all the evidence put before court there is really nothing that can be held to be prima facie proof of the charge that the accused stand of. The evidence led by the accused was left wanting in most respects. It is so manifestly unreliable for this court to rely on. The magistrate therefore acquits and discharges all the accused persons,” he concluded.

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