ACCUSED: Seretse

The corruption case against the Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Vincent Seretse is expected to be moved to the newly established corruption court at the high court in Gaborone at a date yet to be announced.

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Leonard Sechele requested the village magistrate court to allow the matter to be moved to the relevant court when the four accused, Seretse, Paul Paledi, Berndt Guston Astrom and Serala (Pty) Ltd appeared for mention on Tuesday morning.

The four accused are facing four different charges for related offences.

Seretse, a 55-year old former Botswana Telecommunications (BTC) boss is facing two counts of corruption. He is accused of abusing office when he was BTC’s Chief Executive Officer in 2008 and of taking part in awarding a tender to a company called Serala (Pty) Ltd which he had interests in.

As the charge sheet did not indicate the nature of Seretse’s interest in Serala, DPP Director, Sechele, told the Magistrate that he would redraft the count, which according to the charge sheet, is the first count.

The count alleges that on or about 14th February, 2008, in Gaborone, whilst a BTC employee and whilst a referee to Serala (Pty) Ltd, with which BTC proposed to deal with, Seretse failed to disclose the nature of his interest in that company and knowingly participated in the proceedings of the BTC Board relating to the awarding of tender to Serala (Pty) Ltd.

The charge sheet further alleges that on 5th March of the same year, Seretse who was still the BTC CEO, abused the authority of his office, knowingly and without lawful authority when he allegedly directed Moatshe Lebekwe and Berndt Astrom to recruit eight of BTC employees to offer their services to Serala (Pty) Ltd. The recruits included Berndt Astrom, Moatshe Lebekwe, Gabalemogwe Rankgate, Oiketlile Setema, Bareng Gaadingwe, Keone Mpodi, Yunnes Salim Moyo and Segopotso Lebele.

The Director of the company in question, Serala (Pty) Ltd, Paul Paledi was summoned before the Magistrate to answer allegations of giving false information to a Public servant.

However the 60-year did not appear in court and was said to be ill.

Paledi is expected to appear as second accused and third accused in this matter, as he has to also answer for charges leveled against his company.

He is said to have told an Evaluation team leader that in fact it was his company, which recruited BTC employees.

The fourth accused is Bernt Guston Astrom who is alleged to have doubled as BTC Project Manager and a Project Cordinator for Serala between 5th and 8th of March 2007.

The Directorate of Public Prosecution maintains that Astrom was acting knowingly and without lawful authority when he engaged in “an act, which was prejudicial to the rights and interests of BTC.”

As the corruption matter is to be moved to a different court and the DPP to amend the charge sheet, the accused persons were not asked to plea.

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