A Francistown police officer who stole P18 000 worth of petrol was last week sentenced to flogging and two years imprisonment. Francistown Magistrate, Dumisani Bagopi sentenced 26 year old Paphani Elias to two years imprisonment and five strokes for theft. According to the charge sheet, on or about the 3rd of December in 2011, at or near Francistown Police Station, Elias, being an employee of the Botswana Police as a Special Constable, fraudulently and without claim of right with intent to permanently deprive the owner thereof, stole 10 x 200 liters of diesel valued at P18 000 being the properties of the government of Botswana.
The diesel was later discovered in Zimbabwe where it had been sold. The accused had initially pleaded not guilty to the offence and later changed his plea to guilty during the course of the trial. Sentencing the accused on Friday, Bagopi expressed disappointment with the accused saying that it was embarrassing for a police officer to steal properties that he was supposed to protect.
“This is a very embarrassing case because the accused has bitten the hand that feeds him. I feel that this was some kind of greed. How can you steal from your employer? What really aggravates this matter is that the accused is a police officer. The person who is supposed to be protecting the goods is the one who steals the goods,” said the magistrate. The magistrate further took issue with cases where people steal by servant saying that such cases are on the rise in Botswana. He said that the accused wasted the court’s time and resources as he had initially pleaded not guilty to the offence and later changed his plea to guilty during the course of the trial.
“I cannot rule out the fact that you wasted this court’s time and resources as you initially pleaded not guilty and later pleaded guilty to the offence,” said the magistrate. He however said that he took into account the fact that all the stolen property was recovered in Zimbabwe adding that the accused did not benefit from the proceeds of the stolen property. He also said that he acknowledged the fact that the accused is a first offender.
“This court has a duty to show that it does not condone criminal activities. I therefore sentence the accused to two years imprisonment backdated from the date he was first incarcerated. After the doctor’s medical examination he shall also get five strokes. The stolen property will be returned to its lawful owner,” said the Magistrate. Mandla Simon of the DPP prosecuted while the accused was not represented.