Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Former BDF member accused of double murder found to be mentally disturbed

Dr Paul Sidandi, a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist who is based at Jubilee Psychiatric clinic in Francistown has found that Thebe Njavera, a former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldier accused of double murder is mentally unstable. 

Giving evidence on Monday before Francistown High Court Judge, Barnabas Nyamadzabo, Dr Sidandi said that he found from his two psychiatric evaluations on the accused that he is mentally unstable which could  be a result of depression, alcohol and drug abuse.

According to the charge sheet, the accused, who was based at Donga Military Camp in Francistown, allegedly killed his two daughters at Somerset Extension location in Francistown after a misunderstanding with the mother of his children on the 4th of February 2013. It is alleged that when the mother returned from work during the fateful day she found the two children hacked to death with a sharp instrument and lying in a pool of blood. The accused had fled the scene and was later arrested the same day through the help of the public who handed him to the police.
The accused has since pleaded not guilty to all the charges. 

However, the doctor told court on Monday that the accused has had a dark past as he went through a lot of depression, indulged in alcohol and drug abuse. 

The doctor said that that he first came to know the accused on the 22nd of August in 2012 when he (accused) had been referred to his psychiatric ward in Jubilee by a BDF psychologist.
“He was one of the 34 BDF soldiers who had been brought for psychiatric tests and it emerged that him and the other soldier were mentally unwell. During that time a recommendation was made that he should not handle fire arms in a six months period as he was not mentally fit,” said Dr Sidandi.

The doctor said that as he was doing the tests on the accused during that time, he was concerned as he suspected that the accused was taking drugs. 

He said that the accused however maintained that he had since quit drugs in 2011. The doctor also disclosed to the court that the accused had always had a chaotic relationship with his girlfriend as he claimed that she was exploiting him.
Dr Sidandi said in 2012 the accused once again caused disturbance in his parents’ home in Francistown when he violently broke the family furniture without giving any reasons. 

The doctor however said that at the time, the accused was not drunk. 

The accused then chased everyone from the house and attempted to commit suicide by burning himself in the house but the neighbors were called and they acted swiftly to restrain him.
“The fire did not burn because the neighbors managed to shut down the cooking gas which he wanted to use to burn himself. The police were called to arrest him and he was then handed to the BDF for discipline where he was ultimately brought for assessment to the psychiatric ward,” said the doctor.
He said that the accused was put on anti-depressants medication and his condition improved. He resumed duty at the BDF barracks and after a short while before absconding from work.

 He then spent most of his time at Somerset Extension location in Francistown drinking alcohol every day. The doctor said the BDF, as his employers then detained him for 45 days in their holding cells.
“Despite the detention, the accused went away on two more other occasions and was detained again. When he was asked why he went away without leave, he said he hated the BDF and that he was bored,” said the Doctor.

The doctor said that when doing the first examination on the accused on the 30th of March 2013 after the murder incidents, the accused was depressed and homicidal.  The doctor said, he was given medication and the situation improved but later, he showed signs of suicide. The doctor said that he then did a second review on the 13th March 2015 on the condition of the accused. According to his opinion in the second examination report, the accused turned out to be mentally unstable and also with suicidal tendencies. He also said that the accused was failing to adhere to his medication.
“I found the accused to be having an antisocial personality. He has a mental and behavioral disorder which is also perpetuated by the alcohol intake and drugs,” said Dr Sidandi in part of his report.
The report has been tendered as evidence in court. Both the state and the defense have since agreed that the accused is mentally disturbed. 

The state in its submissions said the court should find the accused guilty but should bear in mind that the accused was not mentally stable when he committed the offence. The defence on the other hand pleaded with the court to treat the accused as a criminal lunatic. The state had called eight witnesses.

However Justice Nyamadzabo said that he will need time to analyze the submissions from both parties and the statements of the witnesses. The Judge will deliver his ruling on the 16th of September 2016 on whether the accused has a case to answer or not.

The accused is represented by Reneetswe Rabosotho of Palapye based law firm, Rabosotho Attorneys while Kuda Mbonini from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions represents the state.
The accused is remanded in custody.


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