Bail outrages public

Attendees at the Bail Pitso held in Francistown by Attorney General Chambers PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
Attendees at the Bail Pitso held in Francistown by Attorney General Chambers PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG

FRANCISTOWN: The Office of the Receiver in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Bafi Nlanda has said that there is public outcry about the judiciary granting suspected offenders bail.

He was speaking during the Bail Pitso, which held recently by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at Thapama hotel. 

The two-day Pitso was held under the theme” Bail: Grant or Deny”. 

When giving the keynote address Nlanda said that they do concede that intrusive and violent crimes are on the rise and have resulted in bail attracting a lot of public interest. 

“What worries the public most is that the suspected offenders continue to roam the street as they are granted bail by the courts. The public believe that this is done so without their consideration and as such put them at the mercy of perpetrators of crime,” he said. 

Nlanda further said that it should be noted however, that the courts are guided by the Constitution in granting bail, which is the supreme law of the country.

He indicated that Chapter Two of the Constitution provides for the fundament rights and freedom of an individual, and for the public interest to each and one of those rights is the right to liberty. 

Nlanda said:” As much as the public would like courts to remand the accused persons, it should further be noted that according to the law, a person should not be denied his freedom until proven guilty or innocent of the crime.” 

He said that there must be a balance between the two extremes of upholding personal freedoms and guarding the interests of justice, which will suffer if the accused should abscond before trial or appeal. 

On the contrary, the receiver said that readily denying suspect’s bail would come at a cost to government as it would result in the rise in the cost of maintaining prisons facilities and suspects who ultimately get acquitted would sue the government. 

In considering whether granting bail is an appropriate option, Nlanda said that the key factor to consider is the level of risk posed to a victim or the public at large. 

He said that the nature and seriousness of the offence, which the defendant faces, is relevant if it illustrates the risk created by granting bail. 

He said that a strong indication that the defendant may abscond may be a reason to deny bail in circumstances where the defendant has no right to remain in the jurisdiction or has substantial assets or interests abroad. 

The receiver said that decisions on bail in criminal proceedings represent an important stage in the prosecution process hence the results of these decisions can have consequences for the victims of the crime and public in general. 

He further said that from the viewpoint of the suspect or accused person bail decisions made by court could result in the deprivation or restriction of liberty for a substantial period of time.

He added that these are the competing claims that prosecutors, investigators and courts face all the time in dealing with issues of bail. 

Nlanda said: “When delivering on the issue of Bail pitso the stakeholders should consider the following questions; should repeat offenders be granted bail and which type of offences should not be considered for bail?”

He added that to avoid prejudice to the suspects occasioned by lengthy investigations and slow disposal of cases the courts are often inclined to grant bail even when they were not minded to. 

Therefore, he said that there is a need to speed up investigations and trials as well as improving their jurisprudence. 

“As a benchmark, other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom (UK) have by the statute excluded automatic bail especially in the lower courts for certain offences in the consideration for bail such as murder, manslaughter and sexual offences,” he said. 

 Nlanda urged all the stakeholders and attendants of the Pitso to engage in robust discussions in order to find amicable and common solution to the topical issue of bail. 

But most importantly, he said that the security of the ordinary Motswana in the streets must be held as a standard so that when all is said and done they can assure a safe and secure free Botswana.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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