Two theft and robbery convicts were on Monday sent back to prison when Francistown High Court Judge Moses Chinhengo rejected their appeal after deciding that it lacked merit.
The two, Abraham Kesentseng and Obusitse Lesheto Motshali, had pleaded for a review of their case, arguing that their conviction was laced with irregularities and prejudice.
Their attorney, Keitshegile Sechele, told the court that during the trial the prosecution erred by not providing them with the statement of one of their accomplice who had by then turned into a state witness.
Kesentseng and Motshali are said to have stolen a motor vehicle worth P35 000 belonging to the Central Transport Organization between the 11th and 14th of June in 2004 in Letlhakane in the Boteti Sub District. The two are also said to have robbed Coin Botswana Security guards of P262 930.55 cash and obtained P3 527 worth of cheques by threatening the security guards with a shotgun and further using violence.
When defending their conviction, Nomsa Moatswi of the Department of Public Prosecution said that there had been a fair trial as the evidence linked both the accused to the committed crimes. She pointed out that two former employees of Coin Botswana, as well as the investigating officer, all gave enough evidence to tie the accused to the crime.
Moatswi further submitted that the statement given by the two’s accomplice, who had since turned state witness, was not just an ordinary statement as it was given after warning and cautioning. She further said that the accused failed to prove their innocence when they were given a chance to cross examine the state witness.
The defense attorney, Keitshegile Sechele of Mmohe Attorneys, indicated that the appellants were never given a fair hearing as they were never furnished with the statements of the state turned witness. He argued that the witness only agreed to give evidence the day of trial, and the defense was never given the statements regarding his evidence well in advance.
Sechele further put to the court that the confession statement would be critical in their defense because one of the investigating officers had revealed that he was told by the witness that the accused were not involved in the robbery, but they were given the money by the Coin Security Guards during the day of the incident. Sechele added that according to section 237 of the penal code, any person charged with an offence must be given notice of the offence he or she is facing.
Justice Chinhengo ruled in favour of the state, indicating that the matter lacked merit as there was ample evidence that linked the accused men to both counts.