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NPF defence team pushes for acquittal

MPHO MOKWAPE
Defence attorneys in the money laundering case involving the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) are pushing for the court to drop charges against the accused persons before their indictment to the High Court.

The attorneys, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae and Unoda Mack, have accused the State of playing hide-and-seek to avoid the accused persons entering their pleas.

They are representing amongst others, the Kebonang twin brothers, former minister Sadique and High Court judge, Zein, Bakang Seretse and Kenneth Kerekang in the P250 million scandal.

Ngakaagae, when moving an application for the charges to be dropped yesterday, said the State has failed to move the case forward since it was registered.

“The prosecution knows very well that it does not have a case. That is why they are trying so hard to avoid the accused persons to plead,” he said. “Our clients have been ready to plead since the beginning of the case, but the prosecution does not want that.  They will rather keep on introducing things that are not even important to the case to move forward.”

Ngakaagae argued that since the case started, the State has been introducing a new prosecutor and each time a new charge sheet as well.

He said so far three prosecutors have handled the case and each time they come up with their own preferred charges. “We cannot keep up with all these charges that are introduced now and then and it’s difficult for us because some of the charges are not even understandable. How are our clients expected to understand their charges?” he questioned.

He submitted that, as if that was not enough with the defective charge sheet, the State has defied the order when failing to avail them with further particulars despite the court’s order.

Ngakaagae told court that instead the prosecution decided to introduce new answers as to why they are not availing particulars when the matter was already decided.

“They defied this court’s order by refusing to give us those particulars, instead they have come up with answers as to why the charges need

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to be dropped. There is no case here,” he said.

Further, Mack submitted that the State was aware that its production of the documents sought by the accused would exculpate them.

He said by deliberately withholding such documents, the State was playing fast and loose with exculpatory evidence.

“It is not part of the court’s function to proceed to trial. To do so would give rise to a substantial risk of injustice. The function of the court was to do justice between the parties, not to allow its process to be used as a means of achieving injustice,” he said.

Mack argued that the answers provided by the State to request for further extension better nails the State’s case to them and that the answers clearly do not disclose any offence.

He begged the court to throw the case out because the concealment of documents and conduct of the State amounted to an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

“The accused have been exposed to substantial risk of injustice. The court must therefore intervene to quash the charges and acquit the accused,” he said.

However, prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said there is no basis for the charges to be dropped and it is understandable that the investigations were very complex.

He said it was for that reason that, “the charge sheet kept changing because investigations were not easy and needed to be thoroughly done”.

Abrahams also noted that the State did not defy the court order, but that the State was simply clarifying why it had been difficult to avail some of the documents needed.

Meanwhile, magistrate Masilo Mathaka will deliver his ruling on the defence’s application on July 18, 2019.

The State will move its application for the amendment of the charge sheet, addition of new accused members and their indictment to the High Court after the ruling.



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