Monday, July 4, 2022

Three accused acquire travel documents while in custody

Mystery surrounds circumstances under which three Zimbabwean nationals came into the possession of Zimbabwean travelling documents while they were still in custody as remand prisoners arrested in connection with the theft of goods worth over half a million pula.

It emerged that the travel documents were obtained while the accused were in remand and the Zimbabwean Embassy personnel had explained that for one to obtain such documents he had to be present, in person, at the embassy.
The three accused persons, Bekezela Ncube, Leader Ndebele and Kgololosego Phephe, were arrested in connection with the crime of armed robbery and theft of a motor vehicle.

After their arrest, they engaged Gaborone lawyer Enoch Mazonde to obtain bail for them.

Gaborone Extension Two Magistrate Abigail Masawi has dismissed their bail applications saying that Mazonde had contended that they were disadvantaged in that they had not yet received the witnesses’ statements to gauge the strength of the state case.

This, she said, might be the case but that the evidence before the Court, led through the investigating officer, which she did not hear the defence challenge, is that the accused persons are alleged to have been armed and that they were found in possession of stolen property.

She further said it was clear that the accused were not residents of this country and that the offences they are alleged to have committed are serious and that ordinarily there is a likelihood of them absconding.

Masawi further said that the seriousness of the offences is not per se a reason to refuse bail and that the fact that one is not a national also does not automatically disqualify from him being admitted to bail.

Masawi said that sadly for the accused persons, experience has shown that imposing the latter condition is of no force and effect as the Central Police Station in particular has been left holding travelling documents whilst the birds had flown.

The administration of justice, she said, in her view cannot be guaranteed by the imposition of the usual bail conditions as the system, from experience of her Court, has demonstrated that neither the Court nor the state machinery have the capacity to monitor and ensure compliance with, for example, a reporting condition until it is too late.

Masawi said they have pending cases with passports held at police stations where accused persons have fled.
Sureties, the Magistrate stated, have been signed out of familial obligation or some intimate relationship only to turn out to be inadequate when they are called upon to account for the bond.

In view of the above, she said her Court was of the view that it would not be in the interests of justice to admit the accused on bail and that the best her Court could do, with the concurrence of both counsel, was to allocate the earliest possible trial dates in its diary.

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