The trial in which five men accused of illegally “selling” the government-owned Banyana Farms to an unsuspecting investor started before Extension II Magistrate Joy Brown.
The five men Ofemetse Sento, Gert Titus, Shane Glide Bott, Rauwane Cyprean Wally and Kgomotso Morapedi are jointly charged with intent to defraud, obtaining an amount of P319 000 from Andreen Oosthuizen by pretending that they had lawful authority to sell Banyana Farm in the Southern District whilst they knew that they had no lawful title and authority to sell the said farm.
Oosthuizen informed the court how the accused defrauded him of his last penny that he had planned to use to invest in livestock and dairy farming when he came to Botswana.
When giving evidence, Oosthuizen told the court that, as an investor, he came in 2008 with the sole mission of investing, only to discover that the five men who were “selling” a farm were fraudsters.
┬áHe said that he believed the accused persons to be trustworthy since he knew one of the accused who worked as a labourer at Sunny Side Farms in Lobatse.
Ooshuizen told the court that he made some of the accused sign some documents showing that they were accepting the money from him after having been made to believe that a farm belonged to one of the accused.
He emphasised that┬áthe first accused, Sento, who was introduced to him by one of the accused as an employee at the┬áMinistry of Lands and Housing, was the one who made all documents relating to the title deed of the farm.
Oosthuizen stated that Sento made him pay thousands of pula towards the change of the title deed and surveys of the farm.
He said that at some point, Sento would refuse to sign a letter whenever he was receiving the money with other accused, saying that, as a public officer, he was not allowed to sign for any transactions.
┬áOosthuizen further informed the court that he even went to the farm where Sento later told him that┬áhe was the one who was conducting surveys for all Banyana government owned farms.
He told the court that┬áafter he paid more than a hundred thousand pula to the accused persons, Sento came with a proposal to him, saying that while he waited for the title deed for Banyana Farms, he (Oosthuizen) should apply for another farm in Tuli Block.
Oosthuizen told the court that he believed Sento since he was working for government.
Sento demanded thousands of pula to complete transactions for a farm in Tuli Block.
Oosthuizen also noted that it was in the middle of Tuli Block transactions where he demanded the title deed for a farm in Banyana from Sento who later gave him the title deed.
He said that it was only after he approached the Department of Land and Surveys that he found out that there had never been a farm under his name.
He said that when he phoned Sento someone answered his phone and told him that Sento had died in car accident.
As he persisted in locating Sento,┬áOosthuizen stated that he started receiving threatening phone calls and was warned not to report the matter to the police.
Oosthuizen said that is why it took him sometime to report the matter to the police since he feared for his life after having just arrived in the country.