Sunday, May 10, 2009

OP Response to the Mmegi of 29-30.04.2009 - President never received a request from State to furnish statement in case involving Nchindo and Others

source: Republic of Botswana (9/5/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 13 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

C7) 4/5/09: OP Response to the Mmegi Front page stories of 29-30 April, 2009 - President never received a request from State to furnish statement in case involving Nchindo and Others

We have noted with grave concern the content of two front page articles that have been published online as well as in print by your newspaper under the following headlines: “Big Names Snub DPP” (29/4/09) and “A Sad day for Justice” (30/4/09).

The first article is apparently based on the criminal proceedings of the 28th April 2009 before Magistrate Moroka on the case of the State Vs Louis Goodwill Nchindo and Others, while the second is an attempt to show that H.E. the President and some members of his cabinet "cannot be trusted to put the interests of this country first".

This Office would not usually comment on matters that are before the courts (sub judice), but in this instance we consider it to be in the public interest, as well as a matter of justice and fairness, to draw attention to inaccuracies contained in both of the aforementioned stories.

In our view the headlines and the substance of both articles are misleading in at least two respects. Firstly, they convey the misleading impression that H.E. the President and members of Cabinet have snubbed the prosecution in its efforts to use particular members as witnesses in the Nchindo case. In this respect the 29/4/09 article attributes all sorts of statements to the prosecutor and to the Magistrate, which are simply not borne out by the official record of the court, a copy of which we have.

The second, 30/4/09, article takes the matter further by alleging that "this week, a fully defeated prosecutor Kgosietsile Ngakaagae told the Village Magistrate Court that attempts by the DPP to get witness statements from Khama had drawn a blank”.

It must here be categorically stated that the Court documents confirm that the prosecutor never said this to the court on the 28th of April, or at any other time. In any event, the responsibility for obtaining statements in criminal proceedings lies with the investigating authority, not the DPP.

It should further be made known for the record that His Excellency has never received a request from the State to furnish a statement in his current capacity, or his previous capacity as Vice President.

In light of the above fact we would like to caution Mmegi and others that appear bent on distorting information from judicial proceedings that such behaviour can serve to undermine the judicial process, potentially verging on contempt, while definitely spreading false information to the public.

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