The National Petroleum Fund (NPF) case, which the Directorate of Public Prosecutions was hoping would signal its commitment and ability to tackle big money cases, appears to be slipping further from prosecutors’ grasp.
A week after two high profile accused, former Cabinet minister, Sadique Kebonang and Judge Zein Kebonang, had their criminal charges in the matter quashed, the chief accused, former asset manager, Bakang Seretse won back his forfeited cash from the State.
By now, Seretse, who had his assets seized in highly publicised raids in the past two years, will have gotten back P82.8 million being cash that Lobatse High Court Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe ordered must be returned to him. On December 3, before chief magistrate Kamogelo Mmelesi at Extension 2, Seretse, former director of energy Kenneth Kerekang and several others will find out whether their application to set aside the corruption charges in the NPF case, is also successful.
Analysts have said from proudly parading their high profile accused at the start of the case two years ago, prosecutors have struggled to make charges stick and have also often scored own goals. In the case at Extension 2, Mmelesi has already declined to accept prosecutors’ opposition to the application, saying the State failed to file its papers in a timely manner. It remains to be seen what the failure to submit an opposition in a case in which the applicants are demanding the dismissal of charges means.
On Wednesday, Judge Ketlogetswe found that the restraint order under which Seretse’s property and cash was being held by the State, had elapsed.
“This matter is urgent and is treated as such,” he said. “The respondents’ continued retention of the applicants’ properties on the basis of the restraint order of 13th December, 2017 be and is hereby declared unlawful.”
Seretse and his companies Khulaco
Ketlogetswe ordered the State and the Office of the Receiver to return Seretse’s millions within 24 hours, a ruling that commentators on social media said was a slap in the face of NPF prosecutors.
Seretse meanwhile, has also deposed heavy hitters in the form of former defence minister, Dikgakgamatso Seretse and former Botswana Defence Forces commander, Gaolatlhe Galebotswe, in the fight against his money laundering charges in the NPF case. Oral arguments were scheduled to begin at the High Court yesterday but have since been postponed.
Also former spy chief Isaac Kgosi Kgosi who was indicted on March 5, 2020 on charges including corruption and abuse of office wants the decision of State to prosecute him for NPF case be reviewed and set aside. Last week Kgosi scored victory at Gaborone High Court when Justice Michael Leburu refused to grant the State’s request for a postponement of his review application.
Last week the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appeared before Court, seeking leave to have the application postponed on reasons that it needed to look for new legal representation for the State.
The State says Seretse and others in 2017 illegally diverted funds from the NPF under the pretext of buying anti-poaching equipment for the Directorate on Intelligence and Security from Israel. The State is certain many individuals lined their pockets illegally, but, going by recent judgements, prosecutors are facing a difficult time proving it.