The Court of Appeal recently delivered a ruling in terms of which it arrested gross abuse of office and power by the trinity of the Office of the President (OP), the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). I say OP advisedly, because that is where, according to those of us clåçose to the case, the prosecution is directed.
The DPP is simply acting under dictation from the grand office, which is on a high octane campaign to punish everyone formerly associated with the former regime’s key functionaries and suspected to have benefitted from corruption. Not unexpectedly, they hedged their bets. Not willing to rock the political boat and to expose their backs, they spared their own corrupt functionaries many of whom are in the very OP. Some such, are even directing the proceedings from behind the scenes.
In the case under reference, the DCEC and the DPP harassed and defamed a 100 percent citizen owned and home grown company, Kgori Capital (Pty) Ltd purely on a vindictive hunch that they committed some crimes. The same institution even summoned the company’s directors before court to answer to a set of laughable criminal charges of money laundering and racketeering.
The DPP chose to pursue two parallel courses, one criminal and the other civil. The civil matter finished first, but it essentially marshalled all the evidence to be relied upon in the criminal trial. The DPP argued that they were allowed, by law, to dispossess citizens under the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) without showing any wrongdoing on their part. It is worth mentioning, that over the past year, the institution has wreaked havoc on innocent people in a campaign of selective dispossession only sparing privileged government functionaries.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi is yet to account for what his team bought with the amount in excess of P3 million considered by the DCEC to be proceeds of crime. Same with many of his Cabinet members. Not a single item has been handed back to the DCEC by him or his charges. Somehow, we must assume the campaign and those concerned in his cabinet team spent the entire amounts on consumables. Yet, the DCEC even confiscated fong kongs from poor people on the basis that some miserly amounts constituting proceeds of crime had trickled to them. The DPP wrongfully, but successfully argued that they didn’t have to show any wrongdoing on the part of their many victims.
They almost invariably succeeded on the mantra that the standard of proof needed for dispossession of a private citizen was very low, being of reasonable suspicion, and that it was lower that the ordinary civil standard of a balance of probabilities. And they did it all ex-parte. The image of a police state began to creep over the country where constitutional property rights meant little and all that mattered were the DPP’s statutory reliefs under PICA. A man was evicted from his house for which he was paying a mortgage at 24 hours notice and told he can go a rent a house in town. He was told that his restoration back to his house was not an urgent matter.
The house lies unoccupied and unmaintained. It is rotting away and the bank is foreclosing. For some time, it seemed as if the judiciary had sanctioned a police state. The judiciary had not. It has simply let the door too wide open. The DPP and the DCEC understood it all to be a blank cheque to abuse suspects. Directed by corrupt and vindictive politicians and functionaries of the OP, they behaved like a bull in a China shop, knocking everything all over the place.
They knew they were wrong. Even some of their junior staff would confess that it was all PR. It becomes quite a show when an important department like the DPP loses its independence and starts pursuing a vindictive political agenda. I do not talk about my clients Khulaco (Pty) Ltd for now. That would be gravely remiss. I am only talking about Kgori because their case is not sub judice. Kgori is a company involved in the capital markets. Its business is fragile. Its integrity is its stock in trade. How the company survived the abuse remains a mystery.
The government signed up to a contract the present administration thought they could use in their PR strategy. The politically mortgaged DCEC set a sham investigation in motion. A cowardly prosecutorial authority stretched every letter of the Corruption Act and PICA to elasticity in a bid to fake offences and to aid their handlers. As the Court of Appeal would rule, it was all noise and no thunder.
Some hard working Batswana were lied about and accused of everything from money laundering to racketeering and only spared the offence of bigamy. There were no genuine contractual differences either. Just government keen to embarrass opponents and to use people in the process. They began a witch hunt.
Yet, in a glaring act of cowardice, they steered clear of the former regime’s key functionaries, with who knew where their skeletons are buried. They targeted men and women of means by no means in the hope that the sham prosecutions would make a strong PR case and boost their anti-corruption credentials. Kgori, is a victim of these political shenanigans. What a shame!