Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and Botswana Defence Force had the worst of it when a soldier’s angry wife vented by torching the Francistown BDF Area S Barracks destroying 25 rooms, a kitchen, common room and items valued over P4 million.
Bonno Ikanyeng a 33 year old mother of three and secondary school teacher who followed his husband to the barracks after she could not raise him of his cellular phone told the court that she lost her temper when one soldier laughed at her numerous attempts to call her husband. The last thing she remembers is an altercation with the soldier and waking up on a hospital bed.
Francistown Principal Magistrate, Dumisani Basupi last week sentenced the scorned wife to eight years imprisonment. The accused has also been ordered to pay P4 million as compensation for the goods destroyed by the fire belonging to the state and some to BDF officers.
According to the charges, Ikanyeng who is a teacher at Pandagala Community Junior Secondary School in Tutume village on or about the 5th January 2013 at Area S BDF camp in Francistown willfully and unlawfully set fire on the BDF Area S Barracks by destroying 25 rooms, a kitchen, common room and items valued over P4 million being the property of Botswana Government.
According to evidence before court, the accused had a misunderstanding with her husband (David Ikanyeng) who is a soldier based at the camp.
In her unsworn evidence before court, Ikanyeng did not plead guilty to the offence saying that she does not remember what happened. She told court that during the fateful day she had followed her husband to Area S BDF camp from Tutume after many failed attempts to raise him on his cellular phone. She said while at the camp she had an altercation with a soldier who was laughing at her many attempts to call her husband.
“There was this man who laughed at me and I felt like a fool. Out of anger I threw a chair at him and he advanced towards me. He pushed me and I fell to the ground and I kicked him and I ran away. From there, I remember nothing until I found myself in the hospital,” she told court.
One of main state witnesses, Kgomotso Kenosi who is also a soldier based at the camp however told the court a different version of events. He said on the 4th of January 2013, David Ikanyeng who is the husband to the accused told him that he would be going home the following morning on the 5th of January 2015. According to the witness David Ikanyeng is his cousin and friend. He said during that day the accused came to the camp and asked him to give him the keys to her husband’s apartment and he gave her the keys as they were in his possession. The witness said he then left and drove to go and visit one of his neighbor and colleague. Upon his return, he heard strange noises in David Ikanyeng’s house.
The witness said he then saw the accused who said the house was burning. Embroiled in shock, the witness then proceeded to opening the house and found that it was in flames. He told court that the fire started at Ikanyeng’s house and the only person who went into that house was the accused. The state had called four witnesses.
The defense attorney, Kabelo Gaonyadiwe on the other hand said that the accused committed the offence because she was not in her normal state of mind. He based his argument on a report from one of the state witnesses, Dr Paul Sedandi who is consultant psychiatrist.
The doctor had said in his testimony that the accused’s mental problem could have led to her actions as she was also going through emotional stress. He said that the accused at the time suffered a number of symptoms among them was fleeting hallucination. He however stated that although the accused had a mental problem at the time of the offence, she could still differentiate between right from wrong.
Magistrate Basupi said that there was overwhelming evidence against Bonno Ikanyeng’s and the state had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. He also rubbished the defence claim that the accused did not have any intention to burn the houses and that he was not mentally stable.
“Mental illness as suggested by the doctor in this case could not deter the accused from differentiating between right and wrong. The prosecution has presented its case in a satisfactory manner. The entire evidence forms a reasonable and sound nexus. The witnesses of the prosecution were not shaken by the defence cross examination. The witnesses were consistent in the narration of the events and did not contradict themselves on issues,” he said. The state was represented by Mompoloki Gaboiphiwe of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).