The once-almighty head of the civil service, secretary of Cabinet and permanent secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, together with his wife Pinny, a ruling party councillor, were briefly thrown into jail this week on a blue Monday they will probably never forget. Staff Writer THALEFANG CHARLES writes
When the now suspended permanent secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi first appeared in court on September 3, 2019, the whole event seemed like a political smokescreen for the general elections.
Watching such a powerful man sitting in the dock with his wife was so unreal.
Wearing a navy blue suit, white shirt and a matching tie, the man was quite cool. He walked calmly alongside his imposing wife and co-accused Pinny Morupisi who was dressed in a maroon suit with a crown of short hair tinted also in maroon. They quietly smiled through the flashes and scrum of photojournalists heading inside the Broadhurst Magistrate’s courtroom with their lawyer, Busang Manewe - before he gained the Elections Petitions fame.
At the end of the court session that day - end of Episode One - the couple sped off chauffeured in their private SUV. Even though their first court mention included the grand appearance of the bosses of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime and Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Joseph Mathambo and Peter Magosi respectively, it had no drama as compared to the events of the ‘Blue Monday’ spectacle.
This week the couple appeared before Broadhurst Chief Magistrate, Lenah Oahile-Mokibe. It was there that the prosecution confirmed that they have concluded their investigations and applied for the matter to be taken to the High Court for trial.
In committing the matter for trial at the High Court, Magistrate Oahile-Mokibe ruled that the lower court bail would be revoked. And that effectively meant that the revered PSP was headed for jail, unless their flamboyant attorney pulled off an urgent bail application pending trial before they reached the prison gates.
As photojournalists rushed outside the courtroom to capture the defining moment of PSP stepping in the back of khwela-mahala, CID starring officer, Detective Sergeant Marapo took over the show. Although he is not one of the most handsome detectives, Marapo adores the camera. Every photojournalist in Gaborone can attest to this.
He dearly cherishes being in front of the camera. He has mastered the best angles and moments as when to place himself in the picture. For instance during the just-ended televised elections petitions, Marapo knew the best seats in the courtroom to sit in order to feature on TV. In 2018 during the tragic case of the decapitated Tlokweng woman who was buried without a head, Marapo’s shining big black head appeared on the front-page of The Voice newspaper together with the suspect and a bold yellow title saying, ‘Where is the head?’
So he did not let the PSP grand show pass by without his face in it. After the court session, instead of allowing the couple – which was then in custody – go down the holding cells before being whisked away in khwela-mahala like all arrested suspects, Marapo ordered his police juniors to escort Morupisi and wife through the court main entrance to a small air-conditioned sedan in the parking lot. He walked alongside the couple, followed by their teary daughters, to the car and all along he was purporting to be fanning out the photojournalists.
Morupisi and wife were held in the car, (engine running, air-conditioner on and windows shut) for over an hour, during which, we were told, the lawyers were still busy rushing through the case’s administration work.
They left Broadhurst Magistrate’s Court like bosses in full comfort. According to Manewe, Morupisi was taken to Central Prison while the wife was taken to the Women’s Prison where they spent sometime before being taken to the High Court for bail hearing pending trial.
At the High Court, inside Justice Gabriel Komboni’s Court 7, the door connecting to the dock opened and two prison officers walked in. Behind them was a loud metallic clinking and clunking sound of handcuffs and leg irons approaching. Before we could guess what was coming, the lone figure of Morupisi appeared, gingerly entering the dock escorted by six jail guards.
He was shackled in handcuffs and leg-irons. His navy blue suit that appeared dapper in the morning, was dirty and wrinkled as if he was a leader of a Patlo petition at Gammangwato, where the groom’s uncles, despite their clean suits, sit and bend the knee on dirt soil during a traditional wedding ceremony.
The almighty giant from the Office of the President, the Secretary to Cabinet, the Permanent Secretary to the President and the Head of the Public Service, Carter Nkatla Morupisi was down in the dumps. From a man who had both of his hands on the heartbeat of power, he was now a shadow of his former self.
He appeared forlorn, lost and even when his wife eventually joined him a little later in the dock he could not keep his face up.
Loud shutters of photojournalists holding cameras with blinding flashlights and phones broadcasting live on Facebook drowned them. One jail guard brought the key of the leg irons to unshackle Morupisi before the glaring stares of the crowd.
Mma Morupisi meanwhile, was putting on a poker face. Throughout the ordeal, she defiantly held herself up.
At the end Judge Komboni granted them bail with conditions that each binds themselves with P10,000, that they do not interfere with State witnesses, also that they do not commit any similar offence while on bail and lastly that they appear in court whenever needed.
But as prison admin dictates, they had to be ferried back to prison in khwela-mahala to officially check out.
Morupisi is charged with three counts of abuse of office, acceptance of bribe by a public officer and money laundering while his wife is charged with only one count of money laundering.