Saturday, October 31, 2020

State fails to prove corruption claims against Kebonang Twins

Mpho Letsoalo, the state counsel appointed to prosecute Kebonang twins Sadique and Zein last week struggled to produce evidence linking the brothers to charges relating to the P250 million National petroleum Fund corruption.

The case was initially assigned to Busang Manewe who rescued himself after being challenged on a conflict of interest.

The Directorate of Public Prosecution and the Attorney General’s Chambers then enlisted Letsoalo, a partner at Moeletsi Law firm to help prosecute the case.

Appearing before a panel of judges Abedigo Tafa, Christopher Gabanagae and Matlhogonolo Phuthego, Letsoalo on numerous occasions failed to produce evidence that shows that indeed, Sadique and Zein participated in any transaction and were signatory to any company used to defraud government.

He struggled to point out from the trial record the evidence that can be used to prosecute the accused persons.

Judge Tafa kept on asking counsel Letsoalo to produce evidence or any documents from the review application(record) linking the Kebonang brothers to the alleged crime, but failed.

Judge Tafa was irked by Letsoalo’s submissions that Kebonang opened a Trust account with Briscoe attorneys but the Judge quizzed Letsoalo as to how on earth that happened.

“The easy way is to say its nuances, He could not have done so because he was not the proprietor of the law firm,’ said Tafa.

Letsoalo also failed to produce evidence that Judge Kebonang was an executive director at Basis Point. He also failed to produce evidence that a resolution which was allegedly signed by Judge Kebonang authorising Basis Point (Pty) Ltd to open a bank account was available on his court record.

When pressed further by the three judges, Letsoalo also failed to produce evidence that money was transacted from different bank accounts, Kebonang brothers were directors/or shareholders of the company they were charged with and that they acted in common purpose to defraud government.

Judge Tafa said there was no evidence linking them to any transaction unless the accused were hackers.

The Judges asked Letsoalo to stop misleading the court to a point where they threatened to take action against him.

Letsoalo then told the court that he was abandoning his submissions and requested to stand by his heads of argument submitted before court. 

When making his submissions, lawyer representing Kebonang brothers, Unoda Mark, requested the court to review and set aside the decision of the DPP to initiate and continue with criminal proceedings against Kebonang brothers.

He argued this on the basis of a pursuant indictment of the 29th November 2018 and sub subsequent to committal of the matter to the High Court on the 21 August 2019 on grounds of irrationality, bad faith, unreasonableness, bias and abuse of process.

“I have been advised that the decision to prosecute cannot ne unbribed as it can be used for unlawful and improper motive. The decision to prosecute cannot be tested once a criminal trial has commenced because what is considered at the criminal trial is a determination of all the evidence presented in the case of the guilty or lack thereof of the accused persons and not whether the proceeding decision to prosecute was valid or otherwise, ,“ said Mark.

Mark said the state had failed because there was no reasonable or probable cause to initiate and conduct a prosecution against his clients.

“There is no evidence in the entire trial record to substantiate/or support any accusation levelled against my clients and with that I humbly request the court to withdraw and discontinue the charges against them,” said Mark.

He further asked the court to set aside charges against his clients and dismiss the matter with cost.

Judgement on the matter will be delivered on the 27 October 2020.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Choppies shareholders split over financials

Botswana’s biggest grocer Choppies Enterprises is slowly clawing its way up, but shareholders remain divided while the company founders have increased their...