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State counters Seretse's bid for acquittal

Staff Writer
The prosecution in the corruption case of former Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse has vehemently opposed his application for acquittal.

State counsel, Mpho Letsoalo submitted that it would be prejudicial for the prosecution should Seretse be acquitted on the grounds that his constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated because he has not been granted a quick trial. The former minister applied for acquittal and discharge on Monday after the state failed to call witnesses and sought a postponement.

But yesterday, Letsoalo said that justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done. He submitted that for the court to acquit a defendant in a criminal trial, the state or the prosecuting authority should be found to have repeatedly conducted itself in a manner that delayed the proceedings. "It could not be said that the prosecution has repeatedly delayed court proceedings," Letsoalo submitted.

He said the case has been stalled by the fact that the prosecution had sought the intervention of the Court of Appeal. He submitted that they anticipated that their referral to the Court of Appeal would automatically mean that the proceedings at the Magistrate would be stayed pending the outcome of the CoA.

He said that after the Regional Magistrate Barnabas Nyamadzabo dismissed the prosecution application for stay of proceedings, "we anticipated that we would be given an opportunity to subpoena their

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(defence) witnesses". "We humbly pray that the court should not acquit the accused which would be seen as if there has been negligence or wrongfulness on the part of the state," Letsoalo said. He added that the measure for an acquittal and discharge is not either by concession or a once off situation where the state is refusing to prosecute.

Letsoalo stressed that evidence given by the two witnesses that the state had already called laid the foundation for the prosecution's case. He was responding to an application by Parks Tafa to have his client Seretse acquitted and discharged because the state violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial through numerous postponements.

Tafa argued that the case should be dismissed because the state is perpetually making "frivolous and vexatious objections designed at delaying trial". He submitted that from the conduct of the prosecution, it is clear that the state has no intention of concluding the case. He accused the state of persecuting instead of prosecuting accused persons.  He pleaded with the court either to force the prosecution to call their next witness for the trial to continue or to withdraw the charges. Tafa is due to reply today after the state closed its response yesterday afternoon.



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