Botswana: New Witnesses Tantamount to Ambush - Judge

Gaborone — Petitioner's attorney in the ongoing election results petition trial has been advised not to ambush other parties by introducing new witnesses.

Attorney Patrick Kgoadi for Mr Mogalakwe Mogalakwe had on January 21 surprised the court by calling to the stand a witness who was never agreed to during the final case management conference.

Mr Mogalakwe, an Alliance for Progressives (AP) candidate for Shoshong constituency's Mosolotshane/Moralane Ward in the October 2019 general election, is challenging the outcome.

His lawyer had called Constable Ratanang Gaoakanye only for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) attorney, Advocate Otsile Rammidi to object.Advocate Rammidi said IEC, first respondent in the case, had not been informed of the introduction of two more witnesses.

"We only received their statements this morning. Their testimonies are not included in the bundle before us that were agreed at the final case management conference," he said.

Responding, Mr Kgoadi said his team had informed the first respondent attorneys while chatting in the car parking lot that they would introduce two police officers as witnesses.

The two officers, he explained, would not increase the number of witnesses on the availed list but would be substituting two others.

However, a member of the Gaborone High Court three-judge panel hearing the case, Justice Ketlogetswe Gaopalelwe, said the special arrangement for election petitions was not meant to open doors for surprises. "This is a surprise witness for all other concerned parties," he said.

Justices Itumeleng Segopolo and Omphemetse Motumise make up the rest of the panel.

Judge Motumise concurred with Justice Gaopalelwe indicating that there was no need to introduce a surprise witness.

I believe we are proceeding with this trial as per the material that was bundled by the agreement of the final case management conference by all concerned parties. I advise you to consider calling witnesses that are not of any controversial manner and for the sake of progress let us focus on calling witnesses that are known by all. Call those whose summaries are in front of the court," said Justice Motumise.

Other contenders for Moralane/Mosolotshane Ward were Mr Kesebelwang Gaorongwe of the Botswana Democratic Party who garnered 674 votes and Mr Lucas Mokalake of Umbrella for Democratic Change who managed 264 votes. Mr Mogalakwe got 637 votes while 72 were spoilt.

Source : BOPA

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