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Tug of war over Mujangi evidence settled

LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
FRANCISTOWN: The prosecution and defence recently slugged it out over the admissibility of a document that was translated by an expert from the Customary Court of Appeal (CCoA) in a murder case implicating a former cop, Atlholang Mujangi, for the murder of his girlfriend.

The origin of the document is traceable to the time when Mujangi allegedly visited Pastor Milidzani Sox of the Breath Life Church for assistance.  It was during the visit when Mujangi allegedly confessed to murdering his former girlfriend, Bokani Sox, in 2014. Bokani was a nurse at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital in Francistown then. Pastor Sox (not related the murdered woman) became a key figure and witness in the matter after police gave him a recorder to capture a conversation between himself and Mujangi after the alleged confession.

When allegedly confessing to the murder the day before, Mujangi is said to have asked the preacher for help because “Bokani Sox was haunting him in his sleep”.

In a previous court hearing, Detective Superintendent Simisane Zhibi told the court that the device that was used to record the conversation between Mujangi and Pastor Sox was borrowed from the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS) because the police in his policing district did not have the device.

Zhibi revealed this when being cross-examined by the defence attorney, Kgololesego Segabo.

He also disclosed that when the conversation between Pastor Sox and Mujangi was transferred from the recording device to a compact disc, neither Pastor Sox nor Mujangi were present. The prosecutor, Carlos Diundu and Segabo recently sparred in court over the calling of the last prosecution witness, Sharon Lephalale, to testify about a document that she translated. Lephalale is a principal translator at the CCoA in Francistown. However, Segabo objected to the production and admissibility of the document that Lephalale translated on account that the defence was not even served with the document and was also not privy to its contents. In response to what Segabo said, Diundu said that he remembers serving the defence with the document, but he however did not take the court into his confidence that he indeed served the defence.   Diundu stated that there was a possibility that he gave the defence the document but also there was chance he may have forgotten.

Diundu’s answer did not go down well with Justice Lot Moroka who told him that the words of lawyers in courts of laws are equated to “words of God and honour” and that the courts should always trust unequivocally.

Justice Moroka however

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admitted the translated document provisionally subject to further advice from the prosecution and defence over its admissibility during their submissions. Moroka then ruled that Lephalale should take stand and be cross-examined by the defence.  Segabo asked Lephalale if it was her evidence that she translated from a document that was translated and marked as exhibit F. 

“I received a document that was written in Setswana and translated it to English,” Lephalale responded.  Quizzed further by Segabo if she confirmed that she did not prepare exhibit F, Lephalale answered in the affirmative. Asked by Segabo again if she confirmed that she was never given a gadget or compact disc to translate audio from, Lephalale answered: “The document that I was given to translate from was written on a piece of paper and was not from any electronic gadget.”

Lephalale also told the court that she was not fluent in Ikalanga but was assisted by one Maphila Masego who also works at the CCoA and whose mother tongue is Ikalanga to translate.

Lephalale also admitted that her names do not appear in the document that she translated from page 1 to 15. Quizzed by Segabo why her names did not appear on the document, Lephalale said that she was employed as translator by government because of her academic qualifications (Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with specialty in English and Setswana and Post Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education all obtained from the University of Botswana).

Lephalale also told the court that she never took an oath before a commissioner of oaths after she translated the document to show that she was the one who indeed translated it.  She admitted that she signed the document and stamped it with the official stamp of her office. Diundu then told the court that Lephalale was the last State witness, adding that her testimony marked the close of the prosecution case. Segabo then informed the court that evidence that was led in court was voluminous and as such, he will have to sit down with his client to discuss whether he will give sworn or unsworn evidence in the matter.

“We will also call two defence witnesses,” Segabo said before Moroka set the case for November 13 for trial continuation.



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