In the interesting turn of events in the ongoing treason case of firsts involving inter alia, the minister of Minister of Development Planning Selibe Mochoboroane, former army boss Tlali Kamoli, the prosecution is moving for the recusal of presiding judge while the defense is prepared to back his stay.
The development came after Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane who is presiding over the matter kicked out Advocate Shaun Abrams as lead prosecutor in the matter this afternoon, citing that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Hlalefang Motinyane has already selected Advocate Nnaki Nku as lead prosecutor and Motene Rafoneke as her assistant.
Following the development, Rafoneke told Sakoane that as the prosecution team, they have decided to apply for his recusal from the case.
“I have met with the legal team for the DPP in the matter, inclusive of the DPP and Advocate Nnaki Nku that consequent to what unfolded before this court earlier we currently hold instructions that we should file formal application for recusal of his Lordship in the matter and we intent to work on the formal application so that we give the defence enough time to respond,” Rafoneke said.
In response, Advocate Motia Teele for the Defense said they are ready to reply the matter any time after the prosecution has served them with the papers.
“We would ask the prosecution to serve us with application tomorrow maybe at 12:00hours midday then in the afternoon at around 16:30 we would have answered, then the matter be argued on Wednesday after they reply to our answering papers,” he said.
Sakoane endorsed the procedure by reiterating that indeed the prosecution should serve the defense.
“Such an application should be served to the defense counsel so that they can also interrogate the application and decide what to do. This case is postponed to Wednesday for argument. The crown is going to file their application, latest by 14:00hrs tomorrow and the defence will answer and file on Tuesday at 16:00hrs,” Sakoane said.
Meanwhile, addressing the meat of the central matter, Sakoane told the crown to decide on how many of the almost 100 witnesses they are going to need at what stage of the case and not call all of them at once.
“You have to decide how many witnesses per day you want to call instead of calling all 98 of them here,” Sakoane said, before adding to the witnesses “…you don’t need to be in court all of you at the same time, the decision to call you today is to warn you that when you are needed the DPP will tell you. I am advised by the crown that they will need only two witnesses (DCP Makharilele and Major General Ramanka Mokaloba) at the beginning. All of you are released apart from the two in the event that we proceed. Don’t come to court, you cannot even listen to the evidence in court,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Defense counsel Teele, is still adamant to pursue his initial application to quash the case, reminding Sakoane about the pending application which has not been argued.
“My Lord in the event where we successfully resist the recusal application, we still have an argument to make and we are ready to take off,” he said.
“No there are not going to be any unnecessary postponements, whether this application succeeds or fails, we get to the next application, and that will be heard on Thursday,” Sakoane answered.
In the past, recusal is usually moved by the defense with the crown defending same, it is also common cause that a seating minister be relieved of ministerial responsibility in order to be afforded time to deal with a court case, more so in a criminal matter.