One is the loneliest number for Modise as Montshiwa murder trial takes a twist
First there were three. On Friday, that number was whittled down to a lonely one.
36-year-old David Modise is now the sole suspect in the murder of former Fairgrounds Holdings CEO, Michael Montshiwa, after his co-accused, Tumelo Tshukudu turned state witness against him.
Six years have passed since Montshiwa was gunned down outside his home in the suburbs of Gaborone’s Block 6 location.
With the long-awaited murder trial finally due to start last Friday, Tshukudu’s bombshell means the matter could be postponed for another year.
It follows a similar pattern to the events of 2016 when state withdrew the charges against, Bampoloki Seiso, a traditional doctor who was originally co-charged with Montshiwa’s murder.
Seiso then turned state witness.
It means Modise, once regarded as one of the best young lawyers in the country, will now face the fire alone.
Calling for the case to be delayed, one of Modise’s attorneys, Jabu Oteng, told High Court they were only made aware of the development the previous day (Thursday 18 November).
“This will change the manner in which we would have pursued our client’s defence. We are thus asking to be given more time to prepare for trial,” said Oteng.
Unimpressed, the presiding Judge, Justice Zein Kebonang voiced his displeasure at the lack of progress in the matter, noting the defence’s actions were starting to look suspiciously like delay tactics.
Kebonang further bemoaned his busy schedule, adding postponing the trial now would mean having to delay it until next November.
Alternatively, the Judge added it was possible to hold the trial at weekends.
“This matter has been dragging for years. On Monday, it was postponed after the defence demanded some documents which were said to be missing in the file of the main suspect which was seized when arrested. Now the defence feel they have been ambushed by prosecution on the new development of the second accused. I have trials from January until November 2022. Unless you do not have problem with coming to court on weekends?” suggested Kebonang.
It was a suggestion that both the defence and prosecution said they were willing to consider.
In the end, Kebonang postponed the matter to 29 November for status hearing and setting of new trial dates.
He also ordered that both parties meet on the 24th at the DPP’s office to compare notes and ensure the defence has received all the necessary documents.
Modise was acting as Montshiwa’s attorney at the time of his murder.
He is believed to be the last known person to communicate with Montshiwa, just minutes before the CEO’s fatal shooting.