Broadhurst Regional Magistrate, Christopher Gabanagae, has ruled in favour of the three accused persons in the ongoing P250million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) alleged looting.
The accused, flamboyant businessman Bakang Seretse and his co-accused Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang finally had a sighed of relief this morning after the court ruled that the state should relax their bail conditions.
Magistrate Gabanagae when making his ruling appreciated the complexity of the investigations and that the state may in this case need more time than usual to complete investigations.
He however cautioned the state against their ‘charge and investigate later’ tactic.
“Accused persons were brought before court on a holding charge on December 5th. They were remanded in custody and later granted bail on December 8,” he said further adding that five months down the line the accused have not been allowed to travel outside the country.
“The state has mentioned that their investigations have carried them to other countries such as South Africa and Italy. The court must however not be misunderstood and that the constitutional rights of the accused to be tried within reasonable time must be upheld,” he said.
Gabanagae then ruled that the accused persons be given their passports as and when they need to travel outside the country and that they should surrender back their traveling documents when they return.
The state has also been given 14 days to regularise the seizure of the accused persons property.
For his part, defense lawyer Kgosietsile Ngakaagae expressed his displeasure on the “delay tactic” by the investigators. “We are ready for trial. My clients want to take plea. This is time for the investigators to tell us when they will be ready to prosecute. My clients are being harassed and they need to get their lives back on track,” he argued.
In response the state lawyer has since said they will need three more months to complete their investigations
The State attorney further said that the investigators are currently outside the country busy with investigations. “We will be ready by August for trial and for the accused to take plea. There has been developments in the case which have made it impossible for us to give the court a concrete position as regards to the status of the case and how we will proceed.”
The money laundering case emanates from the alleged misuse of the National Petroleum Fund (NPF).
To date an amount of P 250million is reportedly uncounted for.
The case which has since sparked a lot of media attention also saw parliament resolving to have the matter heard by it’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The case will return for mention on September 12.