State Pleads 'No Funds' In Murder Trial

State Pleads 'No Funds' In Murder Trial
State Pleads 'No Funds' In Murder Trial

FRANCISTOWN: The cycle of prolonged agony of the legal maxim 'justice delayed is justice denied' and waiting to have one's day in court throughout the Botswana legal system repeated itself recently.

This time, the scenario that played out was when a prosecutor informed the court that the police have no funds to transport an investigation officer (IO) to finalise a murder case. This has resulted in the rescheduling of Neo Mosepele's case wher he is accused of the murder of Patrick Sondano on August 26, 2017, at Sedie ward in Maun being rescheduled.

The case was scheduled for continuation of trial before Justice Bengbame Sechele on Friday. When the case kicked off, counsel Ditshotlo Mpale of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) informed the court that the IO (who is the only state witness yet to testify in the matter) was unable to appear from Maun where she is based to give evidence in Francistown. Mpale told the court that he had prepared a summons for the IO to appear in court and even received a receipt of acknowledgement of service from the IO. Mpale added that he even made telephone calls to the IO informing her of the Friday court session.

However, Mpale painfully informed the court that the IO told him that she will not be able to travel to Francistown because the police in Maun where she is based have depleted funds for her transportation and accommodation in Francistown. Mpale added that the IO told him that she will only be able to come to Francistown to finalise the matter after funds are available following the next financial year in 2023. Mpale also stated that the case was not helped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricted the movement of people in Botswana.

It is a well-known fact that the backlog of cases caused by COVID-19 in Botswana has reached a critical level and has disrupted the flow of the criminal justice system in Botswana. Mpale added: “As such, I leave the honourable court to make a determination about how best this matter can continue". Mosepele’s attorney Morgan Moseki told the court that the state attorney had shared with him his predicament of continuing with the case. Moseki also stated that Mosepele had something he wanted to share with the court. Mosepele told the court that if a new continuation of the trial date is set, it should be set in the soonest as he is in jail.

As such, Mosepele said the perpetual postponement of the case was greatly prejudicing him because he is incarcerated. “I have been coming to court since last year but there is no progress in this matter. I should at least be given a nearer date so that this matter can be brought to finality,” Mosepele bemoaned. Justice Sechele then said that he understood the situation that Mosepele was going through.

However, the setting of a nearer trial date this year hit another brick wall since it became apparent that even if trial dates were available this year, the IO is still going to face the same difficulty of the police not having money to fund her accommodation, transport and incidental expenses to travel to Francistown. When the judge was told that the available dates for the continuation of the trial were in June next year, he changed his mind and said no man shall forever languish in jail on account of the police having no funds to finance their officers to attend court in Francistown.

Sechele then said: “In view of the fact that the accused is in custody simply because the police have no funds to transport their officer to Francistown, I set this matter for continuation of trial on November 26 this year. The station commander where the IO is based is ordered to seek funds elsewhere to make sure that the IO comes to Francistown on the above date without fail, otherwise, action will be taken against the station commander. The accused is further remanded in custody.”

Editor's Comment
Hooliganism Uncool!

It was not only hazardous to others but also embarrassing and shocking. The outbreak of COVID-19 forced governments to impose restrictions to curb the spread of the potentially fatal virus, and one of them was a temporary ban on festivals and music shows. While necessary, these decisions affected the incomes of music promoters, musicians, different companies, which deal with sound equipment amongst others. Now that most of the restrictions have...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up