Tiroyakgosi sucked into ‘AWOL’ prosecutor controversy

Stephen Tiroyakgosi PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Stephen Tiroyakgosi PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

FRANCISTOWN: Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Stephen Tiroyakgosi has been sucked into the controversial absence without leave (AWOL) of a DPP prosecutor whose cases are called at the courts but does not appear.

The prosecutor, Botlhe Maroane-Gachungi, is based at the DPP offices in Francistown. Gachungi attracted the curiosity of justices and magistrates after his colleagues at the DPP appeared in some of the cases he is prosecuting without instructions.

Last week, Justice Matlhogonolo Phuthego said he was concerned that some of the cases that he (Phuthego) is presiding over and in which Gachungi is the substantive prosecutor are always called in court but Gachungi is never present to prosecute them since he has not been appearing in court for sometime.

As such, Justice Phuthego asked a Francistown-based DPP prosecutor if at all he knew anything about the whereabouts of Gachungi and why he does not appear in court. Phuthego decried the unexplained absence of Gachungi since he (Phuthego) has never received any official information from the DPP explaining why Gachungi is probably not appearing in court. Justice Phuthego said the non-appearance of Gachungi to prosecute his cases is hindering the smooth flow of the justice system. The judge bemoaned that Gachungi’s absence is greatly prejudicing accused persons since some of them are in jail, adding that the absence is also causing unnecessary case backlogs.

In response, the prosecutor bluntly stated that Gachungi has been absent from work for sometime adding that nobody from the DPP in Francistown is privy about Gachungi’s whereabouts. The prosecutor also said at some point, some police officers came to the offices of the DPP to look for Gachungi but they did not find him. The prosecutor also added that Gachungi is even not present at his place of residence in Francistown.

Gachungi’s absence also took centre stage this week before Magistrate Thabang Chokwe who like Phuthego was concerned about Gachungi’s unexplained non-appearance in cases he is prosecuting. Chokwe told the prosecutor who was appearing for Gachungi without instructions that he recently made an order for Gachungi to appear in his court but that order has been disobeyed without any reasonable explanation. Chokwe then told the prosecutor that the accused in Gachungi’s matter has been in custody for sometime but the prosecutor does not appear in court.

“How do you want us to proceed? The accused’s rights cannot be held in limbo simply because the substantive prosecutor is not appearing in court,” Chokwe said.

In response, the prosecutor told Chokwe that the court has the discretion to issue a warrant of arrest against Gachungi. This prompted Chokwe to briefly adjourn the matter in order to go and make a ruling concerning the rights of the accused person.

However, when the matter resumed, Chokwe did not make the ruling concerning the rights of the accused but postponed the ruling to November 29. Chokwe instead advised the prosecutor that he will issue another order that should reach Gachungi’s immediate supervisors in Francistown and the director of the DPP. Chokwe said the order will ask Tiroyakgosi and Gachungi’s immediate supervisors here to explain why Gachungi is not appearing in court.

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