Four men appeared before Francistown Principal Magistrate, Dumisani Basupi on Monday to answer to a single count of destroying police evidence. It is alleged that on the 7th of February 2015, the accused Kebalepile Mankiya and three others based at Dukwi Refugee Camp, Boidamo Tekiso, Matthew Masuku and Joel Khupe, willfully destroyed 200 litres of diesel worth P1, 810 which was to be used as evidence in a theft case.
The theft case involved Mankiya, who was accused of stealing the diesel from African Copper mine. Information presented by the prosecution indicates that on 7th February, the four accused persons went to Dukwi police station where they stole the diesel and destroyed it in a nearby bush, a few kilometers from the police station.
They were arrested the following day after a tip-off from members of the public. The accused all pleaded guilty to the offence.
The empty container of diesel was presented as evidence in court on Monday. Asked why they committed the offence, Mankiya explained that he wanted to destroy evidence of his theft case which is before court.
“It was my first time to commit an offence and I was afraid. So, I had to solicit help from my friends to destroy the evidence. I regret what I did and I only committed this offence because I have financial problems,” said Mankiya.
However the three other accused persons failed to explain to the court why they committed the offence.
Magistrate Basupi convicted the accused persons as charged.
During mitigation, the first accused pleaded with the court not to grant him a custodial sentence, but rather impose a fine as he is the breadwinner in his family.
“I know I am wrong and I admit my guilt. I plead with this honorable court to be lenient because I have a family to take care of. My wife is unemployed and I am the one responsible for taking care of her and our children. My family would suffer if I am sent to prison,” he said.
The other accused persons also begged the court not to impose a harsh sentence on them, saying they were also breadwinners. For his part, the prosecutor, Oteng Selalame from Dukwi Police Station asked the court to give him time to establish if indeed the three co-accused are first offenders.
“We are waiting for the results of a finger prints check on the three accused persons to ascertain if they have previous convictions,” he said.
The four men have been remanded in custody. Their next mention is on the 2nd March, 2015.