VT Seretse could walk
Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Vincent Seretse might escape the corruption charge levelled against him following an order by Corruption Court Judge Justice Tshepho Motswagole on Friday that the prosecution furnish him with further particulars or drop the corruption charge against him.
The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) is facing two counts of abuse of office when he was BTC CEO in 2008, and for taking part in awarding a tender to a company called Serala (Pty) Ltd which he allegedly had interests in.
The State alleges that on or about 14th day of February, 2008 in Gaborone, whilst a BTC employee and whilst a referee to Serala, with which BTC proposed to deal with, he failed to disclose the nature of his interest in that company and knowingly participated in the proceedings of the BTC Board meeting relating to the awarding of a tender to Serala.
It is also alleged that on 5th March of the same year, he abused the authority of his office, knowingly and without lawful authority, directed two BTC employees to recruit eight other BTC employees to offer their services to Serala.
Seretse’s co-accused, Paul Paledi, a Serala Director, is facing a single count of giving false information to a public servant.
Seretse last year, through advocate Mike Helens, Senior Counsel from the Johannesburg Bar made an application before the court to compel the furnishing of further particulars in respect of the counts he is facing; he said he was not in a position to make a plea because the State did not provide sufficient information.
Though Justice Motswagole dismissed some of the information that the former minister requested especially in the charge of abuse of office, he agreed with him in respect of the corruption charge that he be furnished with more information.
The judge said for Seretse to take plea, the prosecution should state what they mean by saying ‘Seretse was a referee to Serala Company’ at the time of the alleged offence. “The full details and nature of the reference is required to be set out. In addition, a copy of the reference, if it is in writing, is required to be supplied under cover of a separate reply,” said the Judge.
“If having given a reference in respect of Serala company is alleged to constitute the act of ‘having an interest in’ Serala, the state is requested to set out the basis upon which giving a reference in respect of a company constitute having an interest in the company, whether that interest is alleged to be direct or indirect,” Judge Motswagole added.
The Defense has on at least two occasions in the past asked prosecution to furnish them with further particulars but the prosecution did not do so saying the charge sheet was clear.