By Rohey Jadama
Mr. Momodou Sabally, the former Secretary General, Head of Civil
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.
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
“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
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.
By Rohey Jadama