The Village Magistrate’s Court has instructed the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) to conclude their investigations on legislators Samson Moyo Guma and Thapelo Olopeng’s business operations.
Olopeng is the minister of Youth, Sport and Culture and Member of Parliament for Tonota. His business partner, Guma, is an MP for Tati East and former assistant minister of Finance.
The presiding magistrate in the on-going court case, in which the two are still to be charged, Linah Oahile-Mokibe said that it is unlawful for the corruption unit to restrain the two politicians’ properties indefinitely.
In court yesterday, Guma’s lawyer, Dick Bayford said as much as they understood that the DCEC Act mandates the agency to investigate offences under that law, the delay in concluding the matter is bordering on infringement of his client’s liberties.
“They must be allowed to carry out their mandate but at the same time they should not interfere with the individual's right to enjoyment of his or her right to property, a right protected by under the Constitution of Botswana,” submitted Bayford.
“Our position is that the imposition of such a restraint must be made subject to clearly defined perimeters. There must be a limit and certainty as to when such investigations are anticipated to have been finalised,” Bayford submitted. He said there must be checks and balances placed on DCEC investigations.
“The court must exercise a supervisory role in such an effort. It would be undesirable of the provision of the law relating to the tools of the investigations that are open to the DCEC to be open for abuse,” he said.
Bayford argued that, “the DCEC should not be allowed to investigate a case indefinitely and at the same time restraining an individual of the rights of his property”.
Oahile-Mokibe agreed with Bayford saying: “The state cannot restrain their property indefinitely, on the next sitting they should update the court how far they are with their investigations.
The rule nisi is extended until November 13”. The prosecutor Mpho Letsoalo confirmed to the court that they met with the defendant’s lawyers and agreed they should be given a return date of a period of two months to update the court.
Bayford further stated that they would not be challenging the court’s decision to disallow their intension to file for more affidavits. He said that they would no longer seek to strike out some of the points raised on the answering affidavits.
In June, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) froze the accounts of IRB Transport, a company in which Guma is a director.
They have since indicated in their affidavits that they suspected a case of corruption including money laundering and false documents on the part of Guma.
In papers before court, Olopeng and Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, are cited as second and third respondents in the matter. The case continues on November 13.