Having failed to secure bail, Mohammed Jakir Hossain Molla will remain locked up in prison as the minor he is alleged to have assaulted fights for his life in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Princess Marina Referral Hospital in Gaborone. Turning down the bail application, Acting Justice Kabelo Lebotse at the Lobatse High Court said that Molla, a Bangladesh national, was a flight risk.
“While the medical report filed of record seems to suggest that the child’s condition is progressively improving, the child is not yet out of the woods. He remains in intensive care unit of the hospital. The uncertainty in the future health status of the victim, which is attested to by the medical report, is a factor which cannot be treated lightly,” Lebotse ruled.
Molla finds himself in deep trouble after allegedly assaulting a 12-year old child in Mogoditshane in June this year. Molla’s child and the victim were playmates and on the date in question, something went wrong with the playdate, leading to the former crying. On learning what had happened, the Bangladeshi man is said to have angrily smashed the child’s forehead five times against the wall, causing him severe injuries. As Molla sought freedom in Lobatse, the victim laid in the Princess Marina ICU fighting for dear life. While the alleged assault is said to have occurred on or about June 13, it was only six days later (June 19) that the child was admitted to the ICU.
Arguing his client’s case, Boingotlo Toteng submitted that the evidence against Molla was weak, that the medical report does not tell much, only revealing that the victim’s condition is improving rather than deteriorating; and that despite his nationality, Molla was not a flight risk. A businessman who runs a restaurant and motor spares shop in Mogoditshane, Molla has lived in Botswana for the past 15 years and has not visited his home country in the past 10. The lawyer made all these revelations to demonstrate to the court that his client has put down roots in Botswana and was thus not a flight risk.
On the other hand, the state’s case was that the offence that Molla is alleged to have committed is a serious one and if convicted, he faces a potential prison sentence of up to 14 years. With the victim admitted to the ICU, the worst possible outcome looms large in this matter. Attorney Ramodi from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions successfully argued that should the victim pass away, Molla will face a murder charge and under the circumstances, would become a serious flight risk.
While accepting that the fact that Molla had roots that run deep in Botswana in light of his established businesses, Justice Lebotse pointed out that “the same businesses which provided [him] with an incentive to stay in Botswana, also provide him with the means to flee the country.” In the end, he ruled that he was not convinced that Molla qualified for bail as the risk of his fleeing the country couldn’t “be sufficiently curtailed by imposition of any conditions.”