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‘DROP THE CHARGES’

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DEFIANT: Defence lawyers in the NPF money laundering case want charges against their clients dropped

National Petroleum Fund (NPF) money laundering case accused persons on Monday called on Regional Magistrate Court in Gaborone to quash their charges.

The accused persons are Bakang Seretse, Kenneth Kerekang, Khulaco (Pty) ltd, Basis Point (both companies represented by Bakang as Director), M & B Properties Pty ltd ( represented by Bakang Seretse as Director), Member of Parliament for Lobatse and 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). There are 65 counts in the charge sheet most of which are for money laundering.

Attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae representing most of the accused persons told the court that the only remedy for his clients is to have the indictment quashed. He said the prosecution has failed to avail to the defence further documents that they would like to use in the case.

Ngakaagae told the court that the request for further particulars of the case is to help them to prepare for their plea. “We want to advise ourselves properly on how to plead to the charges. This has got nothing to do with how the charges were crafted. It is not about fixing the charge sheet. The consideration that the court has to make is whether my clients can have a fair trial without such particularities,” said Ngakaagae arguing that they have been unduly denied the documents.

He told the court that the response they got from the state is that the documents are part of evidence. Ngakaagae said should the court not agree with them to quash the indictment then the court is at liberty to decide what order to make. He pointed out that the prosecution should drop the charges and put its house in order to later reinstate the charges if they are willing.

Unoda Mack who is also part of the defence stated that the documents that the prosecution is refusing to avail were availed for the forfeiture application and the restraining application both before the High Court. He wondered if the charges should hold water since the prosecution cannot avail the documents they are requesting.

Senior Counsel Wessen Manchwe representing the prosecution opposed the dropping of the charges. He said Ngakaagae could have made an application to the court requesting that the prosecution be compelled to avail the documents.

“What they are arguing about right now is that the responses we gave them are not adequate. Trial for this case would not be in this court so they can make that application at the trial court which is the High Court. This matter is wrongly before this court and the remedy requested is a wrong one,” Machwe said. The court will deliver its ruling on March 22nd 2019.

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Basarwa’s indigenous knowledge could be used in fire fights

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Two hundred delegates from countries that include Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia and Namibia have converged in Maun village for the 7th National Fire Management Conference.

The event taking place on May 14th-16th is held under the theme: ‘Fire Management – A key to sustainable livelihoods.’ Its objectives are to promote implementation of the fire management strategy, facilitate information sharing amongst key stakeholders, as well as promote collaborative partnerships in fire management.

One partnership that has proven to be beneficial is that of government of Botswana and the Australian government. The relationship was born following the deadly fires that claimed the lives of 13 people, and forced the government to seek help outside.

This year, Botswana, which deals with ravaging veldt fires annually, is now looking into exploring knowledge from indigenous tribes when it comes to dealing with fire. Head of Technical Support Services at Department of Forestry and Range Resources, Gabagomotse Mafoko told a media conference that indigenous rangers from Kimberly and Australia will share stories about Traditional Fire management.

He explained that they were also looking into tapping into the knowledge of local tribes. Mafoko shared that the climatic conditions of Botswana and Australia are almost the same, hence this knowledge is vital.

“Indigenous tribes have been fighting fires for years with less emissions. Take for example, the Aborigines of Australia have been doing it, and we want to tap into their knowledge. Locally, the San have been using fire for decades with little damage to the environment,” he explained.

The Botswana and Australian government have a longstanding relationship in the fire management areas. The relationship dates back to 2008. And through it, over 5000 people have been trained in Fire Management Strategy, as well donations of used and refurbished fire equipment units.

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KBL returns Kickstart funding initiative

Koobonye Ramokopelwa

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Kgalagadi Breweries Limited will start inviting applications for its revamped Kickstart initiative which funds youth aged between 18 and 30 years, The Midweek Sun has learnt.

Today, the company which produces soft drinks and clear beer was expected to take the media on a tour of some of kickstart beneficiaries in Gaborone. Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo is expected to officially launch the revised initiative this afternoon at the KBL’s Broadhurst offices. The program was suspended a few years ago due to lack of funds, among other reasons.

Before the program was put on ice, it had benefited over 70 small medium enterprises with funding, mentoring and market access assistance. Speaking to the press last year, KBL Managing Director, Beauchamp, said P1, 5 million has been set aside for this program on annual basis.

“We plan to invest in 15 new businesses every year,” he said at a press briefing which also announced a price reduction for its alcohol brands such as St Louis, Castel Lite and Black Label.

Successful applicants will receive about P200, 000 grants to execute their business ideas. Beauchamp stated that they have been able to reintroduce Kickstart from ‘freed capital’ as a result of the recent reduction in Alcohol Levy from 55 percent to 35 percent by the President Mokgweetsi Masisi regime.

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