“I Did Not Neglect to Attend President Zuma’s Inauguration” Sabally Tells Court


By Rohey Jadama Mr. Momodou Sabally, the former Secretary General, Head of CivilModou Sabally SG Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs, has told the Banjul High Court presided over by Justice Emmanuel Amadi that he did not  neglect to attend the inauguration ceremony of President Zacob Zuma of South Africa.The prosecution alleges that Mr. Sabally while serving as Secretary General, Head of Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs and while being part of the Gambian delegation to South Africa to attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma willfully neglected to attend the said inauguration and thereby committed an offence. The state was represented by Hadi Saleh Barkum, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)  and Antouman Gaye appeared for the accused person. Continuing his defence Mr. Sabally said in spite of the obstacles that prevented him from attending the ceremony, he did his utmost and everything possible to attend the ceremony but that he was not allowed in by the protocol officers because some heads of state were already seated at the ceremony. He said he travelled to South Africa with a delegation headed by the Vice President to attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki’s lecture at the University of South Africa. The former Secretary General said upon their arrival, the protocol team headed by Musa Sinyan,  protocol officer at the Office of the Vice President and assisted by Ndey  Haddy Jeng, started working on the logistics. He added that they started encountering problems because the team was not delivering as expected. The erstwhile SG further told the court that they could not get their Identification cards for the inauguration ceremony until around 3am the night before the programme. “Musa Sinyan and I agreed to meet at the reception of the hotel at 7am and we were to depart together in the same car with Ousman Keita of the Vice President’s Office so that they can join the Vice president’s convoy to go to Pretoria,” said Mr. Sabally. He told the court that the Vice President was living in a different hotel. He said when he came to the reception by 6:45, he did not see Musa Sinyan nor Ousman Keita and that he called their hotel rooms but there was no response. He added that he learnt later that both Sinyan and Keita had departed earlier. When told by counsel Gaye that Sinyan has denied the fact that they should have travelled together, Mr. Sabally “this evidence of Sinyan is not true and that one misinformation he gave to the court was that everybody has his own car and if I had my own car there will be no need to wait for him.” The former SG said when he found out that Sinyan had left earlier as agreed, he called the Honorary Consul of the Gambia to South Africa, Mr. Seedy Lette, to come and give him a ride. He further told the court that Mr.  Lette drove him to the Vice President’s Office and that when they arrived her convoy had already left for Pretoria. He said he then appealed to Mr. Lette to take him to Pretoria. Mr Sabally told the court that Professor Muhammed Kah, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of the Gambia, joined them on the trip. “We had a lot of difficulties because we were not part of a convoy and this hindered our progress because there was a lot of traffic and the advantage of a convoy is that other cars will leave the way for you and you are not subjected to traffic police rules,” said Mr. Sabally. He told the court that he eventually got there after several stops on the way. He added that the distance between Johannesburg and Pretoria is about 45 minutes. He said after arriving in Pretoria, he had to go through several security check points but with the diligence of the honorary consul, they went through all this huddles until they reached at the last security check point where they were not allowed access to get in. He said they pleaded but to no avail as they were told that other heads of state were already seated and that that is the protocol. Mr. Sabaly further told the court that the standard practice with protocol is for them to always alert him in terms of movement and that the protocols are so powerful that they can ask him not to move and he will comply. He added that the protocols tell them when to move and when not to and that Professor Kah was also part of the delegation to attend President Zuma’s inauguration. He said it was the responsibility of Mr. Sinyan to coordinate all the movements as per the standard practice, but that they had logistical problems and that the minister had to share vehicles with others as they had to rent vehicles since the South African government could not provide enough vehicles for all the delegations. “Normally I should be in the same hotel with the vice president but due to lack of available space, I was lodged in a different hotel. The case resumes on Tuesday 23rd June 2015 at I.30 pm and Thursday 25th at 11 am, respectively.]]>