Mochudi criminals, among them rapists and robbers, may be freed without being trialed because burglars have raided the Mochudi Magistrates Court Criminal Registry and made away with ?almost all the dockets? in the court vault.
In what is believed to be Botswana?s biggest court docket haul ever, ?almost all dockets? have been stolen, disrupting the business of the magistrate court.
Deputy Station Commander, Gaolatelwe Kgaphe, confirmed that they are investigating a case in which Mochudi Magistrate Court dockets were stolen in a curious break in.
?I was one of the police officers who were patrolling that night and everything appeared normal, especially with the court security guards in place. We were surprised to get a report that the magistrate court was broken into,? he said
Although Kgaphe could not state how many dockets had been stolen, he revealed that ?most of the case files have been stolen? adding that up to then the police had still not found any trace.
Among the stolen files were rape dockets, robbery dockets, house breaking dockets and stock theft dockets.
The Mochudi docket theft has thrown the Mochudi Magistrates Court into chaos: Magistrates can not pass judgement on cases that have been trialed because there are no records to refer to. Cases which were in mid trial are being abandoned and the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is under pressure to drop charges because there are no case records. Botswana?s criminal justice system is not computerized.
Investigations by The Sunday Standard have revealed that although the Mochudi dockets theft is the biggest in the country yet, it fits in with an emerging pattern where police dockets are being stolen and sold to criminals. The going rate is between P5000 and P6000.
The Sunday Standard investigations turned up information that between July and September last year, a general duty constable at Tshesebe station, Lebogo Pitseetsile, stole two dockets which he sold to suspects for P6, 000.
Two employees of Stop Over Motel in Tshesebe, who had stolen P90 000 from the company, got a police officer to steal the case docket for P5000. Although the police officer was able to steal the docket and hand it over to the two suspects, he was arrested before collecting his payment.