Mmegi Online :: Ndelu Seretse pleads not guilty
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Last Updated
Thursday 13 December 2018, 12:33 pm.
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Ndelu Seretse pleads not guilty

The former Minister of Justice and Security Ndelu Seretse pleaded not guilty to the corruption charge he is facing. Seretse was appearing before Village Court magistrate Barnabas Nyamazabo yesterday morning.
By Staff Writer Fri 14 Dec 2018, 08:36 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Ndelu Seretse pleads not guilty








The former minister resigned from cabinet recently after it was revealed he had a corruption case pending.

According to the charge sheet, Seretse is said to have acted in contravention of Section 31 (1) as read with Section 36 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act.

The particulars of the offence are that "between June 17 and 18, 2008 in Gaborone, whilst he was a member of the cabinet of the Republic of Botswana, wherein he served as the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, and as such responsible for the Botswana Police Service, minister Seretse is alleged to have entered into contract with the Botswana Police."

He had a direct interest as shareholder and director in a company called RFT Botswana (PTY) Ltd, a company with which the Botswana Police Service, a department under his ministry, proposed to enter into a contract for the supply, delivery and commissioning of Aviation Ground Support Equipment per tender No. PR 2/4/2/08 (XLII), and knowingly failed to disclose, at the material time, to the President of the Republic of Botswana, Ian Khama, as the head of the said public body, that the said company in which he had direct interest as shareholder and director, was involved in the tendering as aforesaid."

However the mention process turned into a half-day affair in the hot and humid courtroom between the prosecution, led by Chief Prosecutor Rahiman Khan and the Defence Attorney Parks Tafa as both sides argued over the demand for further particulars made by the defence.

The defence requests access to cabinet files, minutes of deliberations during the time the alleged crime was committed, documents and exhibits relating to the case from the prosecution. In a colourful exchange characterised by snide remarks from Tafa, the defence commenced their proceedings by asking court for an order compelling the prosecution to provide further particulars of the charge.

Prosecution argues that they have submitted all relevant documents. Khan argued that while the defence maintains that they had not been provided with all materials relevant to the case, the prosecution was not in possession of any other document or witness statement the defence had not been availed.

"Most of the matters raised by the defence rest in the charge-sheet and the charge-sheet is clear," explained Khan. He said Seretse was being accused of having failed to declare his interests.

"We are surprised at the cavalier attitude adopted by the State, in response to this request. Facing a criminal charge of any nature is a serious business to his life, family, career and reputation," said Tafa adding that with a proper reading of the charge-sheet it would occur to anyone that it was important to get access to cabinet

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records.

He said according to the charge-sheet the cabinet was a procuring entity, and for that the defence would want to know how it handled the tender. "Everything hinges on what cabinet did or did not do. The refusal by the prosecution to give us the said files therefore is not only ill-advised but at worst borders on bad faith," said Tafa.

Tafa wondered if cabinet had any tender before it, as the Corruption and Economic Crime Act Section 31 demands, if the non-disclosure is to be seen as a crime. "Was there a police tender considered by cabinet? These are the questions we want to explore as the defence," added Tafa.

In a lengthy and somewhat very confident display, Tafa, who had the courtroom occasionally breaking into laughter, dismissed the prosecution's case saying he foresees the matter completed within a period of three days once the case formally commences.

Furthermore Tafa argued that while the prosecution was concerned with the lack of declaration in 2008, there was another declaration that their client submitted in 2004, which should be taken into consideration. Tafa asked the court to give an order compelling the prosecution to provide what the defence has requested. He accused the prosecution, including the Attorney General of being in the habit of bringing anyone to court on charges without carefully considering the basis of such an act. In a veiled threat to the AG and "the State" Tafa said there would be repercussions once the case is done if the defence finds that they want to pursue the matter of malicious prosecution. "This business of just bringing people to court without careful consideration. They have a constitutional duty to apply their minds to these matters. This is important so that innocent people are left alone regardless of their status," he said. Khan, in reply said the defence, was simply misreading the charge sheet. "The accused is being accused of failing to disclose his interests.

That is what the charge-sheet is about" he said. He said therefore, from that angle, there is no need to look inside the proceedings of cabinet. "We never argued that cabinet was the procuring body. So what the defence is asking for is irrelevant and not very helpful to this case.

But if they think of perusing those documents we wont oppose any order to that effect. But why should we take the trouble to provide information that will be of no use in our case?" he concluded. At the conclusion Nyamadzabo ordered that the prosecution replies to the defence's application formally by tomorrow. Court adjourned until October 27, when Nyamadzabo will deliver his ruling on the defence's application.

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