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The Money Case: Inside The Magistrate Court

Suspects leaving court PIC. MORERI SEJAKGOMO
On Friday, accused persons in the alleged money laundering case dubbed “Botswana’s biggest financial scandal” involving about P326 million, appeared before the Regional Magistrate (South) in Gaborone for the bail ruling, Staff Writer THALEFANG CHARLES reports about the mood inside the courtroom

About 30 minutes before the case could be heard, the South Regional Magistrate Courtroom in Block 3, Gaborone was already fully-packed. When the media arrived, just before 2pm, there were already no seats available inside the congested public gallery.

Those who could not find seats were asked to leave the court. A commotion ensued when people without seats momentarily refused to leave the courtroom as per the orders of the police. Some tried to squeeze for space to sit while others squatted on the floor.

Many people inside the courtroom looked distressed. There was not much chatting, but just a waiting in silence. Inside the court, it resembled a funeral scene. According to media colleagues, amongst the concerned crowd were, “girlfriends, baby mamas, family, business partners, drinking mates, and hangers-on”. 

There were politicians, businesspeople and retired government officials.

When one photojournalist shot a picture of the distraught crowd, many were startled and murmured their displeasure. They were not ready for what was about to happen when the accused persons walked into the courtroom.

When the accused finally entered the building, photojournalists engaged in feeding frenzy as they battled with shutters and flashlights to get a perfect shot of the accused persons. Bakang Seretse, in an immaculate fitting blue suit and clean white shirt, led followed by Botho Leburu in a black and white dress and Kenneth Kerekang in a blue oversized suit.

Smiling and even throwing cheeky winks at the cameras and crowd, Seretse was calm throughout the proceedings. He was the same charming ‘beard guy’ that he has always been. The only unusual image about him was his unshaven head.

In contrast, Leburu looked visibly distraught. She could not look the crowd straight in the eye. She held her hands clasped for most of the time in the dock. Everyone could see that the case was affecting her. Kerekang meantime, battled to present a calm face. He would switch on a smile when facing the crowd, but a little later the smile will quickly vanish, replaced by a look of utter distress as reality, like a fleeting dark cloud, seemed to hit him again.

Before Regional Magistrate, Mokwadi

Chris Gabanagae could walk in and start proceedings, UDC president, Advocate Duma Boko, and famous criminal lawyer, Unoda Mack made a grand entrance into the courtroom. Their expensive colognes filled the air as they negotiated their way through the packed court to approach the accused in the dock.

The two top criminal lawyers went straight to the defence lawyer, Kgosi Ngakaagae who was briefing his clients in the dock. Whatever the two top lawyers said to the defendants must have been pleasing because Seretse could be seen gesticulating animatedly and heard volubly thanking them as Leburu appeared to find her long lost smile, albeit briefly.

The short briefing, which excited the photojournalists as the shutters and flashlights intensified, was like a scene from The Godfather - it was like that day has finally come for Amerigo Bonasera to return Don Vito Corleone’s favour.

Ngakaagae later told the court that Boko and Mack had joined the defence team to offer their support. It made sense why Leburu was able to muster a smirk because she now had at her disposal a quarrel of three of the country’s best criminal lawyers in her arsenal.

As Gabanagae was delivering his bail ruling, Boko, pompous as ever, asked his bodyguard-cum-personal assistant, Elliot Moshoke to bring his Macbook laptop. He then opened a Word document and acted busy and hard at work as the magistrate granted the accused bail of P30,000 each together with two sureties at P10,000 each.

The accused therefore had to come up with a total of P150,000 of bail money in 30 minutes before government revenue could close for the weekend.

Failure to pay would mean that they would only taste freedom on Monday after the offer if payment is made.

After some closed door discussions in the court’s holding cells, some unidentified women were seen rushing out to the Revenue office, apparently to settle the bail money that saw the accused persons released on bail.

Later on, the trio was taken to prison under blue lights and sirens escort to sign their liberation forms and go home to await their next mention on January 25, 2018.

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