Seretse’s hope lies with Court of Appeal

Seretse (left) and his lawyers PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
Seretse (left) and his lawyers PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES

The State’s victory party could be short-lived after lawyers representing Bakang Seretse in the State Forfeiture case announced that they are launching an appeal on the matter.

This follows Justice Omphemetse Motumise’s recent judgment that Seretse and former director of the department of energy in the then Ministry of Minerals and Waters Resources, Kenneth Kerekang must forfeit their multi-million pula properties to the State as they are proceeds of crime. The troubled businessman, Seretse has been battling money laundering, corruption and cheating the public charges after he was fingered as the mastermind in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) financial scandal and later had his assets held by the Office of the Receiver on behalf of the State.

His assets, which include high valued residential plots, top of the range vehicles, and have been held under a restraining order obtained by the State while it awaited the conclusion of the State Forfeiture case launched in terms of the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA).

On Wednesday this week, Seretse’s lawyer, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, said he has instructions to appeal the judgment.

He said it was not surprising that the State has finally found something to celebrate in after a long time of court losses. “I cannot comment over the merits of the case for obvious professional reasons. Our instructions are to appeal the judgment, and an appeal would (sic) be noted, in the same way government has appealed just about every case it has lost. Let’s allow them to celebrate the consolation goal,” said Ngakaagae.

The State has endured ‘embarrassment’ after going on a losing spree at every turn in the recent past on major cases. While Ngakaagae said he could not comment on the merits of the case, he stated that his hope lies in the innocence of his clients. According to him, the judge made fundamental errors in both law and fact.

He said the judge relied almost purely on hearsay evidence, overlooked disputes of fact and contradictions in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) case and further, made assumptions unsupported by the evidence. “For example, all evidence from South Africa was hearsay, unconfirmed and unauthenticated. The DPP had previously given a differing version on oath, about the funds: he did not consider that accounts were opened expressly by PSs, relied on unsigned, and doctored minutes,” he said.

Ngakaagae further added that his clients have been inconvenienced as they have been denied the assets for at least four years. He said as it is, the assets are deteriorating while his clients’ lives have been at a standstill. On the value of the assets, Ngakaagae stated that they are yet to account for depreciation before forfeiture but they estimated cumulatively to exceed P20 million. Ngakaagae also blasted the State media for its coverage of the case saying they “have come out, as if from a 100-year long slumber to take interest in the case”. He also took a swipe at President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

“After tens of raids, and a campaign of lies and harassment, we are not bothered. We have seen worse. We trust that the Court of Appeal will dispense justice, and shall therefore, leave the merits of the case in its hands,” he said.

“We are unsurprised and unbothered by the Motumise judgment and the language therein. Our position is that it is wrong, in about all conclusions. But until it is tested, we will bear it, with fortitude,” he added. In his judgment, Justice Motumise said the public revenue was cheated by the fraudulent actions of Seretse and Kerekang. Justice Motumise said the duo acted fraudulently in diverting the NPF funds for private gain instead of purchasing oil stocks for Botswana Oil according to the avowed purpose for which the funds were assigned.

“The confiscation offence of money laundering was committed contrary to Section 47 of PICA by Seretse and Basis Points by using the NPF funds to purchase the plots for themselves and related companies and individuals,” read Justice Motumise’s judgment in part.

Justice Motumise also said Seretse went on a spending spree, with evident intention to exhaust and dissipate the NPF funds, leaving its account desolate, with no investment to show for the NPF, or single oil in sight.

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