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Ralotsia Lives To Fight Hemp Case Another Day

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
Patrick Ralotsia PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
Former minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia has successfully thwarted attempts by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) to force him to produce a lease between himself and Fresh Standard (Pty) Ltd for hemp cultivation.

The police service had sought an order from court to order him to produce a Lease Agreement entered into between himself and Fresh Standard (Pty) Ltd and have it presented to investigating officer, senior superintendent Moatlhodi Ntuane.

BPS also wanted Ralotsia to provide any other documents that may be necessary in the investigation of the unlawful cultivation of 32 dagga plants at Kanngwe farm, allegedly for narcotic or psychotropic purposes that Fresh Standard planted.

Ntuane told court that he needed the information from Ralotsia for the purposes of investigations and or any other information that will assist in establishing the lawful ownership of the farm.

However, defence lawyer Kgosietsile Ngakaagae argued that the order prayed for by the applicant is overly broad and lacks specificity to be capable of both comprehension and compliance.

“This is like a fishing expedition. There is no information from the affidavit that there is a lease agreement and whether he signed it or not. They should also not just state they want any other information and specify what they specifically want the court to order. As it is, there is no legal justification for the order sought,” he said.

He further argued that the essence of the order, as sought, would be

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to compel Ralotsia to help the police to investigate himself, which he said violates his right against self- incrimination. He also argued that the sought order, infringes upon Ralotsia’s right to silence, and further offends the judge’s ruling.  Delivering the verdict, Village Magistrate’s Court quashed the application on the basis that even though Ralotsia had told the police that he leased the farm to Fresh Standard, he had stated that there was no lease agreement signed.

She said even though Ntuane had said Ralotsia told him that he had leased the farm to Fresh Standard, it should have been stated in his founding affidavit.

“On this basis only, the application falls off, because I may make an order that the respondent tenders the lease agreement, when in actual fact it does not exist. And the order I issue will only be academic and will not be enforceable against the respondent,” she said.

With regards to right to silence and self-incrimination points raised by Ngakaagae, the Magistrate said no reasonable justification was established on oath and founding affidavit on existence of a lease agreement.

She ordered that the rule nisi that was issued early September be quashed and that each party would cover own costs.



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