The much-awaited trial in the controversial National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal is expected to get underway as additional suspects in the money laundering case which started last year appear in court.An amended charge sheet drafted by Wessen Manchwe who has been representing prosecution in the case was scheduled to be read to the suspects before Regional Magistrate Court in Gaborone yesterday (Thursday).
Initially in the dock were Bakang Seretse, Kenneth Kerekang, Khulaco Pty Ltd (represented by Bakang as Director) and Botho Leburu. Their plea had not yet been taken as Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) insisted that investigations in the matter were still ongoing and therefore plea could not be taken. According to information gathered this week no plea was to be taken when the accused persons appear in court (yesterday). A new Regional Magistrate is expected to preside over the case since the substantive Magistrate Christopher Gabanagae has been promoted to the High Court bench as a Judge.
In the amended charge sheet Leburu is no longer appearing but more suspects (persons and companies have been cited) including High Court Judge Zein Kebonang, who has come under extreme criticism for refusing to resign but instead requesting for leave. In the new charge sheet Kerekang, Bakang Seretse and Khulaco are charged together with Basis Point (represented by Bakang as Director), M & B Properties Pty ltd (represented by Bakang Seretse as Director), Member of Parliament for Lobatse who is also former Energy Minister Sadique Kebonang, Raging Bull Pty ltd- (represented by Sadique Kebonang as Director), High Court Judge Zein Kebonang, Mogomotsi Seretse, Leomog Pty ltd- (represented by Mogomotsi Seretse as Director), Kago Stimela and STM Holdings Pty ltd- (represented by Kago Stimela as Director).
Most of the 65 counts mentioned in the charge sheet are for money laundering except for a few that have been prepared against Kerekang (abuse of office, money laundering, theft and giving false information to a public officer) and Bakang (money laundering which features in almost all of the charges, theft and uttering false document).
Justice Kebonang of Gaborone High Court has applied for leave of absence from duty after he was served with charges of money laundering by the DPP on Monday this week. Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane provisionally granted him the leave subject to approval by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Justice Kebonang is facing one count of money laundering.
He is said to have with Bakang and M &B Properties on or about October 27th 2017 at or near Gaborone acting jointly with common purpose engaged in a transaction involving property, which property was proceeds of crime to wit, P1 194 029.8 (1 million, 1 hundred and ninety four thousand and twenty nine Pula eight thebe) by causing the said amount to be transferred from M &B Properties account number 0002504001550 held with Capital Bank to Tonkin Clacey Incorporation in South Africa for purchase of Unit 532, The Polofields, Gauteng South Africa for the said Zein Kebonang, knowing or suspecting or having reasonable grounds to know or suspect that such property was derived or realised in whole or in part directly or indirectly from a confiscation offence.