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'Broke' DPP decries lack of funds

LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
Justice Moroka
FRANCISTOWN: The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is facing some financial constraints at its branch in Maun which prevent some of its prosecutors to attend scheduled court cases in Francistown.

The dire situation emerged at the Francistown High Court on Wednesday after the substantive prosecutor in the cases in which Gobuamang Ntsuape is charged with several offences failed to appear before Justice Lot Moroka because of lack of funds for food, transport and accommodation.

Ntsuape is facing one count of murder, five counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson.

The incidents allegedly happened at Block 9 location here at the homestead of the parents of Ntsuape’s ex-girlfriend, Dorcas Kgosietsile, on September 13, 2016.

Ntsuape allegedly went berserk after Dorcas-who has a child with him ended their love relationship.

However, the wheels of justice came to a grinding halt when Ntsuape appeared in court for continuation of his trials because of the absence of the substantive prosecutor, Carlos Diundu.

The matters were initially scheduled for continuation of trial on Wednesday and Thursday this week. But nothing happened-a situation that left defence counsel Charles Tlagae, Ntsuape and Moroka dissatisfied.

After it was clear that there was no appearance for Diundu, Tlagae informed the court that he received a call from Diundu who told him that the DPP had no funds to pay for his logistics (food, transport and accommodation) for travelling to Francistown from Maun. “I spoke to one of his colleagues who is in another court here and he promised me that he would come and tell the court about what is happening in relation to Diundu,” said Tlagae.

After the prosecutor who was holding brief for Diundu arrived in Moroka’s courtroom, he told Moroka, “It was unfortunate that the trial would not proceed as initially scheduled.”

“The reason why these matters are not proceeding as scheduled is that the DPP in Maun has insufficient funds to pay for Diundu’s accommodation, food and transport to Francistown for continuation of trial. Our superiors in

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Maun have written a savingram to the Registrar and Master of the Francistown High Court. The purpose of writing the savingram was to alert Judges here about the situation that we find ourselves in Maun,” said the prosecutor who held brief for Diundu.

The prosecutor added: “The DPP in Maun will only have funds to address this situation after April 1, 2020. I have since told the learned defence counsel that the trial will continue in May. As such, I pray for the court’s indulgence and forgiveness”.

At that point, Moroka expressed displeasure about the situation saying that he failed to appreciate the reasons advanced by the prosecution for postponing the trial. “I don’t understand how a whole state department would fail to secure money for counsel to attend court. This should not be happening because the dates for continuation of trial have been set well in advance,” said Moroka.

Tlagae also told the court that he was not happy about the pace at which the trial was proceeding.

“I communicated the predicament that the prosecution finds itself into my client and were both not happy about it. The state should have made arrangements for the substantive prosecutor to appear in court. The state has long known about this issue but there is nothing I can do about it except to ask the court to impress upon the prosecution to attend next court appearances without fail,” said Tlagae.

At the end of the court appearance, Moroka said that he was going to write a formal complaint to the powers that be at DPP, expressing his discontent about the situation.

“We can’t allow situations whereby counsel don’t appear in court. These matters are postponed to May 11 and 12 for continuation of trial because of the absence of counsel,” he concluded.



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