Sunday, October 1, 2023

Suspects in Trojan’s P2 million robbery plead not guilty

Five accused persons who are facing a single count of robbery amounting to P2 million have pleaded not guilty when appearing before Molepolole Chief  Magistrate, Dlamini Ngandu.

During their court appearance on Monday morning, the court was shown exhibits comprising of goods allegedly bought with the proceeds of crime and more than a million pula in envelopes.

 According to the state, the five accused, Motlhatlhobi Bagopi, Onkabetse Malope, Brutus Mokgalo, Gerald Zikhale and Meshack Kangangwane, a Trojan employee,  used  violence when stealing an amount of P2 million from Trojan Security on August 19 last year.   

After their plea, the Directorate of Public Prosecution’s Prosecutor Thato Dibeela informed the court that the state intended to bring 33 witnesses to testify in┬áthe case.

When the magistrate quizzed her about the exhibits, Dibeela informed the court that the exhibits were kept at Bank of Botswana.

She also informed the court that the exhibits comprised of cash amounting  to more than P1 million that was recovered from the accused persons after they allegedly stole it from Trojan Security.
 After  the magistrate emphasised that there is a need to bring the exhibits for identification before the court the state prosecutor sent the court into laughter when she noted that some of the money was stunk.

 The prosecutor further told the court that the money that was stinking was recovered from a toilet.
Dibeela maintained that the exhibits that were recovered in a pit latrine were a health hazard.
┬á“It is smelling. It is not in a good state,” she said.

The prosecutor later informed the court that the money will be brought for viewing outside the court. 

The court was adjourned when the exhibits were brought under heavy escort from the Special Support Group (SSG). It was the state prosecutor who objected that the envelopes be opened when the court session was taken outside for inspection.

Dibeela objected to the inspection of the over a million bank notes citing issues of security.
The accused persons, the magistrate, state prosecutor and the defence lawyer for one of the accused were provided with white masks  to cover their mouths and noses.

Dibeela informed the court that the money that was contained in the envelopes could only be shown to the court after she consulted with relevant authorities. However, the a defence lawyer for the first accused, Kgosietsile Ngakayagae, also noted that the court will be clueless as to what is inside the envelopes if they are not opened.  He argued that it will be more like stock taking because the court will be left to guess as to what was inside the envelopes. However, the magistrate also admitted that without opening the envelopes, it would be difficult for the court to identify the exhibits before the court.

Magistrate Ngandu advised the state to set another date where all parties, including the defence, accused persons and the state, will meet to inspect the money contained in the envelopes.

She emphasised that there is need for  the state to liaise with registered financial institutions to conduct the counting with necessary machines because it was going to be difficult to count more than a million pula manually.

The court session that took place outside the court was then adjourned after identifying the envelopes alleged to contain the money and goods bought with the proceeds.

Soon after the court resumed inside the magistrate court the state prosecutor sent the court in a panicking mode when she informed the court that she was missing the files and documents relating to the case.

The prosecutor told the court that she had left the files and documents in one of the offices in the court but she was relieved when a police officer recovered the files.
Ngandu warned her to make sure that she keeps such documents under lock and key to keep such information safe.

The magistrate advised the state prosecutor to ensure that an inspection of exhibits is carried out before the trial kicks off next month.


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