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DPP moves closer to recovering P60 million

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The Directorate of Public Prosecutions moved another step closer to recovering the government’s P60 million from Basis Points Capital LTD when it closed its final submissions on Tuesday.

The DPP has made an application for Civil Forfeiture Order against property belonging to persons implicated in criminal proceedings in the P250 million National Petroleum Fund scam that is before the courts.

Making his final submissions, Ernest Mosate responded to arguments raised by the lawyers for the defendants saying that they were wrong to think that the DPP has no right to raise the issue of a fraudulent contract between DIS and Basis Points Capital LTD in their Replying Affidavit.

He said they had no intention to make the issue part of their application for the order, but the respondents raised it in their answering affidavits.

“Our Replying Affidavit brought evidence to demonstrate that the contract does not exist, it is a fraudulent document and that is why it cannot be the basis for the eating of 60 million Pula and for the manner in which it was eaten,” Mosate argued.

Basis Points Capital is linked to Bakang Seretse who is implicated in the 250 million NPF case that is still pending before the courts of law.

Mosate said that the fraudulent contract came into being between March and July 2016 and a total of P60 million was transferred to Basis Points Capital bank accounts at Stanbic Bank and Bank Gaborone between July and December of the same year.

He added that fraudulent signatures, fraudulent correspondence, and ghost employees of DIS were used in the scam hence the urgent need to recover the funds.

This, he said, was confirmed by DIS and ministry officials who have disowned the signatures that appear in agreement documents.

Earlier, the defendants called for government officials to take to the witness stand and be subjected to cross examination in respect to the contents of their affidavits.

Mosate said that the rules of the High Court Act and Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) prescribe how forfeiture proceedings should be conducted – “they should be conducted speedily and expeditiously”.

He said there was no need for a full trial but the judge had the discretion to call some witnesses to clarify their averments.

The DPP further said that the company did not procure oil as purported in the fraudulent contract but instead, the funds were used in acquisition of luxurious vehicles and acquisition of plots which are to be forfeited.

Some of the vehicles under the DPP’s radar are a couple of Ford Maceratti, Mercedes Benz luxury vehicles and developed plots.

Meanwhile, Justice OmphemetseMotumise has postponed the matter to end of July when he will pass judgment.

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Court dismisses application for case withdrawal

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Industrial Court Judge President, Tebogo Maruping, has turned down an application for a withdrawal in a marathon case between former Wildlife Ranger, Thatayaone Lexicon Mpatane and his former employer Department of Wildlife & National Parks.

In a brief letter dated 10th March, the Registrar of the Industrial Court, Anna Mphethe writes that: “I’m directed by by the Honourable Judge President who’s seized with this matter to inform you that this has been concluded and is currently awaiting judgement and therefore your application for withdrawal will not be entertained.”

A bemused Mpatane told The Voice that he was shocked that the Judge President has rejected his intention to withdraw the matter. “In our correspondences last year, whenever I inquired about the case, I was always given the impression that the Judge President had a backlog of cases from as far back as 2017 and mine was number 50 out of about 51 cases,” he said.

Mpatane referred The Voice to a correspondence from the Court written on 20th December 2019 in response to his inquiry written on 11th November 2019.

In the letter written by Bakang Tshipinare on behalf of the Registrar, the Judge President states that the principle of first in, last out is applied when cases are adjudicated before court. “Your matter will hence be dealt with, once the preceding cases are concluded. We’ll hence keep yourself updated on the estimated time frames during the year 2020,” reads part of the letter.

In court documents seen by this publication, Mpatane wrote his case withdrawal letter on 3rd February and requested a prompt meeting with the bench clerk to inspect the file.

However according to Mpatane while the court provided him with the documents the one he needed the most was conspicuously missing. “The court order confirming that I withdrew the matter was not among the documents and when I inquired further I was told the Judge President had refused to write the order asserting that he had already heard the case and would write judgement,” he said.

The former ranger told The Voice last week that he needed the material to register the matter with the High Court to seek for additional reliefs which the Industrial Court cannot grant.

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Chinese coronavirus suspect causes chaos

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Ministry of Health assures the public of safety

A Chinese man was on Tuesday at the centre of scenes of chaos and confusion that broke out in Phakalane as police arrived to investigate why he was living in a warehouse.

As police swooped on the property, the Chinese national, who has since been identified as Lin Xuenyang, bolted out of a goods container parked in the warehouse and took to his heels.

Pandemonium ensued as curious but scared onlookers were torn between watching from a safe distance and arresting Xuenyang as he jumped into a Toyota Fortuner and drove off at high speed with police giving chase.

A woman, who tipped off the police from the warehouse next to where the Chinese man was hiding, has told The Voice that she became suspicious when she realised there was a man living in a container being fed through a window.

“It went on for three days. Another Chinese man would come, stand by the window, hand over food and leave only to do the same again at the next mealtime,” said the informer.

An employee at the warehouse revealed the man had arrived in the country from China on Sunday.

“We have learnt that his brother was advised to quarantine him for 14 days, but now he is out and gone after only three days,” said the concerned woman.

However, on Wednesday evening the Chief Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Doreen Motshegwa assured the public that the Chinese man was caught and put back into self-quarantine.

“We did get the tip off and went to investigate. Fortunately when we got there we found out that this is a man who got into our country legally. He was screened for Corona and it was confirmed that he did not have any signs of the virus. He was however coming from a country that was affected so we advised him to home quarantine for 14 days. We shall keep on checking on him everyday to make sure he does as advised.”

Meanwhile, the imported container caused panic and pandemonium as people complained that it might have imported the virus and demanded it be sanitized.

CONFIRMING: Motshegwa

Dr Ntoni of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, however, assured the public that the virus only survives for 8-12hrs outside a human body or on surfaces before it dies and goods take several days to arrive here from China so the virus would have long died by the time the container arrived.

For their part, Police Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube said, “As police we are ready to protect the nation mentally and logistically if the need arises.”

The Coronavirus, which broke out in Wuhan, China in December, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Whilst the unprecedented disease has brought much of the western world to its knees, Botswana, which has not registered a single case of the virus, has readied itself for any eventuality, banning public gatherings, cancelling conferences, closing borders from countries battling the virus and mobilizing health and government officials for action.

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