A lawyer representing Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Mothetjoa Metsing on Monday urged the Court of Appeal to declare his client did not break any law when he refused to appear before the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) early this year.
King’s Counsel (KC) Motiea Teele was addressing the apex court in a case in which the deputy premier wants to block the DCEO’s investigations into his banking details.
The Constitutional Court on 25 February this year ruled against Mr Metsing in his bid to have the investigation declared illegal, prompting him to approach the Court of Appeal.
In addition to challenging the legitimacy of the probe, Mr Metsing says the investigation is motivated by “an ulterior” motive because at some stage, some of the charges were withdrawn.
The DPM also challenged the DCEO’s use of a “wrong section” of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 1999 in its investigation and summon.
“The test here is whether the appellant (Mr Metsing) was a suspect or not at the time he was called by the respondents for an interview,” Advocate Teele told the court.
“We submit he was a suspect and as such, the relevant section to be used is section eight of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 1999.
“This particular section allows a suspect to refuse to appear before the DCEO to answer questions that might incriminate him.
“The respondents did not say if he was a suspect or not, so the appellant could not just go and incriminate himself.
“The appellants only used section seven of the Act knowing that under that section, a person has no other alternative but to go and answer their questions.”
But under section eight of the same Act, Advocate Teele said someone suspected of an offence can refuse to appear before the directorate “if he has a reasonable excuse”.
“Although the respondents (DCEO Director-General and the DCEO) don’t want to admit that they treated the appellant as a suspect, it is clear from their papers that they regarded him as such.
“This is evident from their papers where they said they were investigating a case in which it was alleged he received bribes from a company called Big Bravo and that he committed corruption by using the powers of his office to ensure that a tender for the construction of Leqele and Matala roads was awarded to Big Bravo.
“The key words here are bribery and corruption.
“Clearly, from their papers, the appellant was treated as a suspect.
“They only wanted to use section seven so that he would be bound to go and incriminate himself,” he said.
However, the DCEO’s lawyer, Advocate Roland Suhr told the court it was “untenable” for the organisation to ask for Mr Metsing’s permission to investigate him.
But after being pressed by the judges, Advocate Suhr conceded Mr Metsing was a suspect.
The court is expected to deliver judgment on 6 November 2015.
The case was before acting judges Frederik Daniel Jacobus Brand, Moses Hungwe Chinhengo, Phillip Musonda, Yvonne Mokgoro and Robert Nugent.