Thursday, March 30, 2023

Fate of arsonist who destroyed part of BDF camp to be decided

Francistown Principal Magistrate, Dumisani Basupi will on the 21st of January 2016 determine whether Bonno Ikanyeng, a 33 year old woman of Tutume who was convicted last year of arson should be given a custodial sentence or suspended sentence. The magistrate will also determine the issues of compensation. 

The particulars of the offence are that, Ikanyeng who is a teacher at Pandagala Community Junior Secondary School in Tutume village on or about the 5th of January 2013 at Area S BDF camp in Francistown willfully and unlawfully set fire on the BDF Area S Barracks by destroying 25 rooms, a kitchen, common room and items valued over P4 million being the property of Botswana Government. According to evidence before court, the accused had a misunderstanding with her husband (David Ikanyeng) who is a soldier based at the camp.

One of the state witnesses Kgomotso Kenosi, who is a cousin to the accused’s husband (David Ikanyeng) said on the 4th of January David Ikanyeng told him that he will be going home the following morning which he did.

He said the next morning (5th of January 2016) the accused came to him and demanded the keys to his husband apartment. He said he gave her the keys as they were in his possession and later on he left on to check on one of his neighbours. The witness said upon his return, he heard strange noises in David Ikanyeng’s house. He said he saw the accused who said the house was burning.

The witness said in opening the door he found out that the house was engulfed in flames. He said the fire started at Ikanyeng’s house and the only person who went into that house was the accused. The state had called four witnesses.

The accused however pleaded not guilty to the offence. She said in her unsworn evidence that she does not remember what could have led to the fire as she only found herself in hospital after her misunderstanding with the husband. She said that she had followed her husband at Area S BDF camp from Tutume village on the 5th of January 2013 as he was not taking her calls. She said that while at the camp she had a quarrel with one of the men who was laughing at her many attempts to call her husband.

“I called my husband in her cell-phone when I was at the camp as he was not there and he told me that he was not coming and had decided to go home. There was this man who laughed at me and I felt like a fool. Out of anger I threw a chair at him and he advanced towards me. He pushed me and I fell to the ground and I kicked him and I ran away. From there, I remember nothing until I found myself in the hospital,” she told court
As part of his defence, her lawyer, Kabelo Gaonyadiwe argued that the accused was not in her normal state of mind during the commission of the offence as stated by one of the state witnesses, Dr Paul Sedandi. He said that her mental problem could have led to her actions as she was also going through stress. The doctor had mentioned in her testimony that the accused at the time suffered a number of symptoms and one of these is “hallucinations.” 

The doctor however had recommended that although the accused had a mental problem at the time of the offence, he did not suffer any insanity as to not know the right from wrong.

In his judgment, Magistrate Basupi, rubbished the defence assertion that the accused was not in her right state of mind leading to the offence. He said there was clear evidence that she intentionally committed the offence and there is no proof that her mental state could have affected her actions. He also said that the evidence given by the state witnesses was satisfactory and consistent.

The prosecution has presented its case in a satisfactory manner. The entire evidence forms a reasonable and sound nexus. The witnesses of the prosecution were not shaken by the defence cross examination. The witnesses were consistent in the narration of the events and did not contradict themselves on issues,” he said.

The magistrate also said that the witnesses in their statement did not try to fabricate or falsely implicate the accused.

“Therefore I accept the evidence of the prosecution as the truth. I therefore find that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt she is now convicted of arson,” said the magistrate.

The state was represented by Mompoloki Gaboiphiwe and Kagiso Lekang of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).

In mitigation the defence, pleaded with the court to tamper mercy with justice and not grant the accused a custodial sentence.

Both parties-the accused and the state have agreed on the issue of compensation. 

Apparently the state is seeking over four million as money for damaged property.


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