A man accused of murder has requested the High Court to order that he should be allowed to visit a library once a week to prepare for his defence.
Matshidiso Boikanyo, the only defendant who was denied bail in a case in which he was accused with three others of stabbing to death a cab driver on September 2013 told Justice Bengbame Sechele yesterday that he needs a library to read and learn about his constitutional rights.
“I ask the court that I be taken to the library at least every Monday or every Wednesday. This would help me better prepare for my defence. I need to understand my constitutional rights. I need to thoroughly understand the Penal Code and case law regarding murder,” he said.
“The law also says that after a case like mine has been committed to the High Court I should be released if I have not been tried after spending at least six months in custody. This clause was amended in 2014, but because I have been in prison before it was amended, the law stipulates that the changes should not affect me,” he argued to support his application for bail.
The unrepresented Boikanyo was charged alongside Tshwanelo Tshimologo, Onthusitse Kgosiethata and Moabi Seabelo Mabiletsa for the murder of cab driver, Vincent Mopipi in Gaborone Block 9. The other accused persons were last year granted bail by the Village Magistrates Court but Boikanyo was locked up because he was a flight risk.
Yesterday, he told Justice Sechele that he wanted to be represented by a lawyer of his choice. He told the court that he had already spoken to the lawyer and they have agreed that she would represent him. “Since my case was committed to the High Court on July 7, 2014, I have never been served with any documents. I am liable for any facility I need to prepare for my defence. I have already spoken to the lawyer; she has agreed to represent me,” he said.
Countering Boikanyo’s claim that he has the right to be represented by his preferred attorney, the prosecutor, Gopolang Tlhabologang said an accused person is provided with a lawyer by the state on the discretion of the Registrar of the High Court. “Unless the judge says he can choose his preferred lawyer, the law states that it is up to the discretion of the registrar.
He has a right to engage a lawyer of his choice out of his own pocket, but on the flip side, the state can provide an attorney for those who cannot afford one. He cannot say he wants this particular lawyer. He has not demonstrated why he should be given the attorney of his choice.
The court does not deal with personal interests. It only deals with privilege,” he said adding that the application be dismissed by the court. Sechele will make a ruling on the matter on August 5.