FRANCISTOWN: The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) through its Asset Forfeiture Unit is on a mission to seize State land that it believes was acquired illegally.
The State through its lead attorney, Ernest Mosate, the head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, is of the view that some people obtained chunks of residential and commercial land worth millions of pula unprocedurally.
In the case that came before Justice Lot Moroka recently, the State claims that from early 2000, a syndicate involving a conveyancer, conveyancing assistant and Land Board and revenue officials sold land to some people under dubious circumstances.
The current case involves 31 respondents and its ruling on points in limine (a hearing on specific legal points which takes place before the actual case referred can be heard) will be delivered on September 19, 2018.
According to points in limine that were raised by the respondents attorneys, the application by the DPP to seize the residential and commercial land does not satisfy Section 93 of the Deeds and Registry Act because the said plots have title deeds.
Also, the respondents’ attorneys argue that according to section 27 (5) of the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act of 2014, the seizure of the properties can only happen once the respondents have been convicted of having obtained the land illegally, but so far none of the respondents have been found guilty of having committed any crime. “The application of the seizure of land is based on the current law, yet the offences were allegedly committed prior to the law coming into effect of the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act of 2014. Before that, the charges were based on Proceeds of Serious Crime Act,” reads another point in limine raised by the respondents’ attorneys.
In 2010, Justice Zibani Makhwade ruled in favour of some of the respondents after the State made an application to seize their land.
In the said case, the State wanted the accused to be charged with the same offence even though they did not allegedly commit the offences at the same time. Similarly in August 2010, the respondents did not take a plea when they appeared before the late regional magistrate, Lorraine Makati-Lesang after they raised an objection about the charge sheet. The suspects in the case that Makati-Lesang was pressing over were facing 85 counts of corruption in respect of a public transaction, corrupting public officers and falsification of records.
Of the 33 accused persons, three were public servants and were all facing the
These officers were principal state counsel, Moloko Mokgokong, assistant revenue collector, Julius Selemogwe and principal technical lands officer, Reuben Tshule.
One of the defence lawyers, Moses Kadye, moved another application of a misjoinder.
Kadye submitted that there was no allegation against all the accused for any conspiracy.
“The allegations against them are totally different. There is no legal justification why the accused were lumped together. There is great prejudice in lumping the accused together. There is a danger of looking for uniformity when there is none.
“Each case should be treated on its facts. I am addressing the court on behalf of the fifth and 22 accused persons (Victor Sebina and James Moffat, managing director and representative of Bango Trading respectively) and I do not purport to represent the other accused persons, but my clients only,” Kadye submitted then.
The other nine defence attorneys associated themselves with Kadye’s objection.
Advocate Perpetua Dube instructed by attorney Bruno Williams and representing Devotee Investments’ director Dagin Bawa told the court that no summons have been served at all against her client. Dube said her client was in fact a complainant in count 74. Apparently Dube’s client innocently bought the disputed land from one of the accused persons. The advocate succeeded in her application because the State later withdrew charges against Bawa. The prosecution also withdrew charges against Winston Keosimile.
When opposing the objection raised by the defence lawyers, principal State counsel, Samantha Mbikiwa submitted that they were not ready to respond. “Firstly, we have to demonstrate why the accused persons appeared in the same charge sheet. Under the circumstances we need to be given a date in which we shall respond to the objection raised by Kadye,” submitted Mbikiwa.
Her submission invited a vehement objection from Kadye who said that there was no need for research. “The anomalies are there to see. They appear expatiate. We know that the State holds too much power, but they cannot summon the whole town to appear before court,” submitted Kadye to the laughter of people in court then.
Just like attorney Gabriel Komboni’s objection, magistrate Makati-Lesang also wondered why the State drafted the charge sheet in June but could not defend it in August.
Makati-Lesang, however, said she understood that the affidavits before court were bulky and thereafter granted the prosecution time to respond to the objection.