LOBATSE: An attorney supporting Sunday Standard and its editor, Outsa Mokone, has pleaded with Justice Michael Leburu to summon directors of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).
The lawyer, Tshiamo Rantao, appearing for the Media Institutte of Southern Africa (MISA Botswana as amicus curiae (friend of the court), wants the directors to appear in court in order to give evidence as to the progress of investigations involving intelligence and security agency director, Isaac Kgosi.
This is in a case in which the DCEC has dragged Sunday Standard and Mokone to court seeking an interdiction against the paper publishing details of a docket containing information in regard to investigations carried out against the head of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Kgosi.
Rantao submitted that it was crucial to call both organisations’ directors to give evidence before the court since the decision which will be reached by the court will be centralised around whether the investigations into Kgosi’s alleged corruption case were complete or not.
“The application before this court should be considered in a Constitution prism angle. It’s in the public’s interest to know how investigations into the case have been, or are ongoing.
The investigations started in 2011 and in 2015, the DPP returned the docket to the investigating body since there were more statements to be recorded. It has been four years since the investigations commenced, hence it’s in the public interest to know why investigations involving a high-ranking public officer would take so long.
“It is hence important for the court to know the progress of these particular investigations in order for it to reach a just decision. It’s therefore essential for the court to call the directors of DPP and DCEC to update the court on their progress so that it may well be advised whether an interdict against publishing the details to the public will be a right decision. It must be noted that access to information is not only for the journalists. The public ought to know,” Rantao said.
Appearing for Sunday Standard and Mokone, attorney, Dick Bayford argued that it is not wrong to disclose the contents of the docket in (the) public interest as soon it is sent to the DPP. But the state counsel, Matlhogonolo Phuthego differed with Bayford. Phuthego argued that when an investigating body forwards a docket to the prosecuting body, it does not necessarily mean investigations are complete.
Phuthego said as much as it is in the public’interest to know, it is also in the same interest to allow investigations to be completed without any disturbances. He said it will not be reasonable to call DPP and DCEC directors to give evidence. “I don’t see any reason why the directors of both organisations should be called to give testimony. What are the respondents willing to achieve? The respondents will not suffer any prejudice if the interdict is granted. Actually, the applicants are the ones who will suffer prejudice,” Phuthego submitted.
In the case, the DCEC, through the Attorney General, approached the court seeking a restraining order against Sunday Standard from publishing details of the case against Kgosi. In the draft order, the DCEC wants the applicants to show cause why an interdict should not be granted to restrain the newspaper or any other person(s) having access through them from publishing, distributing or disseminating information, material excerpts or any contents of docket DOC/IF/2011/01166. The applicant wants the same order to be implemented as an interim relief upon finalisation of the matter.
Ruling will be on November 16, 2017.