Monday, January 17, 2022

Two Francistown Immigration officers face fraud charges

On Monday, Masego Mmereki an officer at the Francistown Immigration Regional Office appeared before Francistown Magistrate, Dumisani Basupi to answer for a single count of fraud.

The accused is charged alongside her colleague, Onthusitse Maikgodiso(second accused) who has since absconded prosecution. A warrant of her arrest has been issued.

According to the charge sheet, the two accused persons on or about the 28 of April in 2010 at the Francistown Regional Immigration office acting together and in consent without lawful authority or excuse, made and signed a false document (waiver) to assist a Zimbabwean national, Chikuni Promise Tichaona who wanted to extend his residence permit in the country.

The two accused persons have all pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Giving evidence in court on Monday, the police investigation officer, Moswaane Koboyankwe told court that on the 17th of August 2012 while on duty at Francistown Police, he received information from a source indicating that one Chikuni Promise Tichaona, a Zimbabwean national was in possession of a waiver which was not authentic.

“The same source told me that Tichaona was on his way to the police station during that day. I managed to locate him when he arrived at the police station and I confronted him. I searched him and found the waiver in his pocket,” said Koboyankwe.

The investigation officer said that he then interrogated Tichaona who said that he got the document from the immigration officers at the Francistown Regional Immigration office.

“We further carried our investigations leading to the arrest of the two officers, Mmereki and Maikgodiso. The document was then referred to our forensic investigation department in Gaborone and the results indicated that Masego was the one who authored the false document,” said the investigation officer.

He said that during interrogations, Tichaona revealed that he first approached the second accused, Maikgodiso to assist him with the waiver and she referred him to Mmereki(first accused).

“According to our investigations, Mmereki was the one who had access of the waiver at the immigration offices and it is clear that she is the one who authored it,” said the investigation officer.

After cross examination of the witness, the prosecutor, Ogolotse Tampa from the DPP pleaded with the court to grant him two more months so that he can locate another witness (Tichaona) who has since skipped the country to Zimbabwe.

He said that they have since engaged Interpol to help them extradite Tichaona back into the country.
However, the defense attorney, Mishigo Jeremia of Jeremia Attorneys, objected saying that two months is too long as the matter was registered in November 2013. He said that the matter has been dragging for too long and the prosecution has always been giving the same excuses.

“Two months is too long because we gave the prosecution enough time to bring their witness to court. This case has been dragging for a long time and we seek the court to dismiss the case as per section 50, sub section four of the criminal evidence act. We feel that the court has been too accommodative on the prosecution and this is prejudicing my client,” argued Jeremia.

Jeremia also argued that the state failed to provide any proof before court that they have made efforts to extradite the witness back into the country from Zimbabwe.

Asked by the magistrate to furnish proof before court on the efforts made to extradite the witness from Zimbabwe, the prosecutor said that he has a document to substantiate his claim but failed to produce it as he said it is somewhere in his office.

However, the magistrate concurred with the defense saying that the prosecution was afforded ample time to bring the witness.

“I also agree with the defense that the matter has been dragging for a long time. You have also failed to provide proof before court on what efforts you have done to extradite the witness. Therefore I feel that the matter should proceed on the 26th of June,” said the magistrate.
The first accused is out on bail.

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