Land scam suspects fight for freedom

Fighting for freedom: Accused Segola and Mathumo are fighting multiple charges of land fraud. PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE
Fighting for freedom: Accused Segola and Mathumo are fighting multiple charges of land fraud. PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE

Four accused persons in the 2005 Mogoditshane land scam want to be freed from all allegations by the High Court

Justice Bengbame Sechele will on October 6 deliver a ruling in a matter in which four former employees of Mogoditshane Sub Land Board want a permanent stay of prosecution for corruption and obtaining by false pretences.

Kaboyaone Segola, Maggie Mathumo, Tiny Khole and Kgomotso Tlhabanelo want the High Court to clear them because they were charged in 2005 but were not tried for offences related to unlawful land dealings in Mogoditshane.

The accused persons are suspected to have sold residential plots to the public between Mmopane Block One, Mogoditshane Block Nine and Mogoditshane Block Seven.

Yesterday, the accused asked Justice Sechele to clear them of all the charges because for 10 years, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions failed to start the trial. This, they contend, means that they would not have a fair trial. They also argue that they suffered prejudice since their arrest in March 2005.

Segola’s attorney, Unoda Mack, said there has been an inordinate delay in formally charging his client and that he had been subjected to frequent questioning and threats of detention.

“My client was arrested in 2005 but he was formally charged in 2008 and committed to the High Court in 2013,” he said. “The delay has made it impossible for my client to remember certain facts and details surrounding the alleged offence. Also the material witness may no longer be found due to the delay.”

Mack said no sound reasons had been communicated or advanced to the accused for the delay by the state, and that during all that period the mental anguish and concern over his future was compounded by the frequent threats he received.

He said Segola’s rights had been violated because he was not afforded a hearing within a reasonable time. Mathumo’s attorney, Busang Manewe, said the 10-year delay was largely due to the fault of the prosecution and not that of the accused who had made numerous court appearances without any progress.

“Failure by the state to serve the defence with all the necessary documents in time to prepare for the accused’s defence, despite numerous court orders, interfered with the smooth delay of the case,” he said.

Manewe said his client lost her job 10 years ago and since then has struggled to find a job on account of the pending corruption case, and that she has exhausted all her financial resources. Omphemetse Motumise and Mogakolodi Segwagwa, who represented Khole and Tlhabanelo, concurred with the other attorneys. Motumise said the four accused persons made 38 court appearances without any progress. “We are dealing with applicants whose lives have been ruined and they suffered immensely including their career prospects,” he said. Countering the applicants’ application, Lesedi Seloka from DPP said investigations delayed the prosecution due to the complexity of the case. He said investigations started in 2005 and ended in 2007. In 2008, defence lawyers were served with documents.

“We relied on the DCEC to complete the investigations and they told us that the documents they had to study were many and could not be rushed due to the complexity of the case and the documents,” he countered.

Seloka explained that the other cases cited by the attorneys that had less years, and were granted stay of prosecution, had other elements that led to that. The cases were not in any way similar to the current case because there were other factors involved.

“We therefore submit that the applicants are not entitled to the order of permanent stay remedy, and the applications to be dismissed and an order be given for the trial to resume,” he said.

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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