Bakang Seretse, and his co-accused, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang, are now free to travel outside borders. Chief regional magistrate, Christopher Gabanagae on Friday relaxed the accused persons' bail conditions allowing them to have their passports whenever they wish to travel.
The trio, who are facing money-laundering charges involving over P320 million from the National Petroleum Fund (NFP), have been fighting to get access to their accounts and be given passports in order to be able to travel outside.
During the ruling, the magistrate said the accused persons will often have their travel documents whenever they need to travel outside the country, but will surrender them upon return.
“I understand the complexity of the case and that investigations may take longer than expected, but the constitutional rights of the accused persons must be upheld including being tried within reasonable time,” he said. Gabanagae also gave the state 14 days to regularise the seizure of the accused persons’ properties. He had also cautioned the state on their delay tactic saying they should cease the ‘charge first and investigate later’ mentality.
Earlier on, the defence team comprising of Dick Bayford and Kgosietsile Ngakaagae made it clear that the State’s delay tactics on the matter did not amuse them. Ngakaagae said they were ready for trial, but the investigators are delaying the matter by always resorting to ‘we are still investigating’ mentality.
“It is time the State tells us when it will be ready for trial. We cannot go on like this. Our clients are being harassed, they need their lives back,” he said. Despite their displeasure over the delay, the State was not moved saying it will still need more
Prosecutor, Wesson Manchwe told the court that they would need three months to finish the investigations arguing that, as it is the investigators are busy at work outside the country. “This is a cross-border case and investigations go far and also there have been new leads making it impossible to give the court a concrete answer on the state of the case and how we will proceed with the trial,” he argued. Ngakaagae made the request heard by the Magistrate.
Ngakaagae reasoned on the delay of the case that the court should allow his clients to take some few trips outside the country while waiting on the court’s judgement on the money laundering case.
After the voiced-out request, the court awaited on the Magistrate final judgement on the request.
Gabanagae, looking at the sudden retard of the case, ruled in the defence’s favour and granted the trio access to their passports in agreement for them to bring them back upon return from their respective trips.
The Prosecution’s failure in concluding their investigations in regards to the case, forced another delay on the matter as the court scheduled the following mention after three months in September.
Court also ruled that the Directorate of Public Prosecution should make an application in the next 14 days to determine the seizure of property by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime.
The next mention is on September 12, 2018 at 9am.