Francistown Principal Magistrate, Dumisani Basupi on Friday convicted Alakanani Kiba a former police detective, Victor Tachipula and Thabo Sello who are facing two counts of falsely representing themselves as the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) agents and swindling money from an Indian businessman in Sebina village.
It is alleged that on the 10th of February, 2012, the accused persons, unlawfully arrested Pankajkumar Shar (the businessman) on pretence that they were DIS agents and further obtained P6 200 from him after accusing him of unlawfully obtaining government tenders. The businessman owns a warehouse business in Sebina village which supplies building materials.
They accused the businessman of doing dirty government tender deals with the help of one Lebogang who was also in their custody during the time. ┬á
The accused persons then took him into their vehicle to Francistown and when they reached Mathangwane village, a few kilometres from Francistown they then demanded him to pay them the P6 200 which he did. They released him and he later reported the matter to the police after becoming suspicious of the accused persons.
Police investigations were carried out and the accused were all arrested in Francistown on the 11th of March, 2012.They have however pleaded guilty to the first count of false representation.
The prosecution had also charged one, Alfred Matshambane who was with the accused during the commission of the offence, but has since turned into an accomplice witness and charges have been dropped against him.
Asked by the magistrate on why they represented themselves as DIS agents, the accused all said they did so because they wanted to defraud the businessman some money.
Giving his ruling, Magistrate Basupi said that by the accused pleading guilty, it shows that they are remorseful and have not wasted court’s time. He however said that false representation is a serious offence and should not be taken for granted. He also said that it is important for him to balance the accused and the society’s interest.
“All the accused persons have pleaded guilty to the first count, therefore they are guilty as charged,” said Basupi.
With regard to the second count, the defense attorney in the matter, Kabelo Gaonyadiwe of K K Sechele Attorneys brought to the court’s attention that his clients have indicated that they are willing to raise the money and pay the complainant the money that was allegedly defrauded from him.
“The accused persons have advised me that they are willing to reconcile with the complainant and will source funds to pay him. We plead with this honorable court to afford us some time so that we can resolve this issue with the prosecution amicably,” said the defense attorney.
The prosecutor, Gasemotho Pitlagano from the DPP also did not object to the defense application.
The next mention has been set for the 9th of February, 2015, and both parties are expected to update the court on the outcome of their discussion regarding reconciliation.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Basupi sentenced a middle aged Zimbabwean, Xolani Mpala to three years for entering the country at an ungazetted point on the 13th of January, 2014. The accused had been declared a Prohibited Immigrant (PI) in July 2013.
During trial the accused pleaded guilty to the offence and told court that he was forced to come back into Botswana because he had left his children in the country.
┬á“The accused has had brushes with the law before because he was once sentenced to two years imprisonment wholly suspended for two years and one of the conditions was that he should not come back to Botswana. It seems to me the implications of his sentence lapsed in his mind as he went on to commit the same offence. Part of the sentence was that if certified fit by a doctor he should get five strokes of the cane and he got them. It also seems the strokes did not change him as he decided to commit this offence by coming back into the country,” said the magistrate”.
“However, what has worked well for the accused is the fact that he pleaded guilty to the offence without wasting the court’s time. It shows that he is remorseful to his actions. Entering the country through an ungazetted area needs not to be over-emphasised as it is serious. ┬áHe is sentenced to three years wholly suspended for three years without committing a similar offence. The accused will also receive four strokes upon being certified fit by a medical doctor,” he concluded.
The accused was not represented while the state was represented by Inspector Mengisto Chigala from Francistown Police Station.