Francistown Magistrate Court was this week plunged into a crisis following a request by fraud accused, Richard Matlapeng, that a death row inmate be brought in as his witness.
The Francistown Principal Magistrate, Lorraine Makati, last week had to rack her brains around the unprecedented request.
Alleged fraudster Matlapeng pleaded with magistrate to allow him a chance to call a death row inmate Mokwadi “Fly” Modise to stand as his witness. Modise was condemned to death by the former Francistown High Court Judge Moses Masuku for killing his 2-year-old child with an axe.
The prosecution revealed in court that they had received a savingram from Gaborone Central Prison informing them that the death row inmate would not be released to give evidence as the law prohibits such decision to be made. The prosecution further informed the court that section 117(1) of the Prisoners act states that the minister, the prison officer, a medical officer authorized by the prison commissioner are the only people who can be allowed the opportunity with a death row inmate.
As the court is currently facing complications to access the inmate to come to court, Magistrate Lesang suggested to the state to get the witness to give evidence in Gaborone, before a magistrate and a prosecutor and that the information be brought to the Francistown Magistrate Court for continuation of trial.
The prosecution further pleaded with the court to furnish a court order to the commissioner of prison to release the witness to come and give evidence in court.
The Magistrate assured the defence and prosecution that it will do its best to get the death row inmate to come and give testimony.
Matlapeng is accused of obtaining, by fraud, a home theatre worth P2000 from Ellerines Furniture Shop in Francistown on the 4th of March in 2006 using a lost government cheque amounting to P4 884.