DPP failed NPF case- High Court rules
In what has been termed an embarrassing defeat in the state’s National Petroleum Fund (NPF) case, this Tuesday High Court threw out the charges against the Kebonang brothers, Sadique and Zaine.
In a damning judgment, the all male panel – Judges Abednego Tafa, Mokwadi Gabanagae and Matlhogobolo Phuthego – ruthlessly punched holes in the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) case.
Between them the siblings were facing seven counts of money laundering – two against Zaine and five against Sadique.
However, the judges ruled that the state, through the DPP, failed to provide court with any documentary proof linking the duo to the P250 million allegedly looted from the NPF.
The judges further slammed the DPP for not thoroughly reading the docket before charging the prominent pair.
“Nowhere in his answering affidavit does the 1st respondent (DPP) aver that he had read the docket prior to charging the applicants. All that he says is that the charging had been preceded by a briefing to him, on the available evidence, by Mr Manchwe (lead prosecutor), who he says had perused the evidence and the investigating officers from the DCEC,” reads part of the judgment.
The judges also noted the DPP did not produce any substantial evidence as to why they decided to charge the brothers with money laundering.
“It would not be proper for the Director of Public Prosecutions to institute criminal proceedings which right from the word go appear unsustainable. .. It is only where there is a reasonable possibility of a conviction looking at admissible prima facie evidence before him, that the first respondent (DPP) should charge the suspect,” continued the judgment.
Judge Phuthego pointed out that for the charges against Zaine, documentary evidence shows the only people involved with opening bank accounts for Basis Point – which allegedly opened the door for the plundering of funds from the NPF – were Hope Tawengwa and Bakang Seretse.
“One wonders why an officer of the court holding such a crucial public office could make such a false averment,” noted Phuthego.
As for Sadique, the Judge reasoned, “The 1st respondent (DPP) has not put forward any scintilla evidence that establishes prima facie case on how the 2nd applicant (Sadique) was able to cause the transfer of funds if the cheque was signed by a different person (Bakang Seretse).”
Explaining his link to the ‘NPF Scandal’ Sadique had told the court his only wrongdoing was selling shares to Bakang Seretse and receiving money for a donation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi – who was then Vice President – for his Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairmanship campaign.
The former Minister described the charges against him as ‘perplexing’ considering the person who was a beneficiary – Masisi – was not charged.
For his part, Zaine told court his link comes from a consultancy payment made to him by Seretse. He further maintained he was never at any point a signatory in any of the accounts as alleged in his charge sheet.
Although the judges dismissed the charges, the panel stressed they do not believe the DPP harboured any malicious intent when charging the brothers.
Whilst the High Court have dismissed the charges, the Kebonang brothers are not completely off the hook as, along with 10 others, they have a similar NPF matter ongoing before Extension II Magistrates Court.