Two women, a Motswana and a South African national on Monday escaped the wrath of the law after Francistown Principal Magistrate Peggy Madandume gave them three-month suspended sentence for a single count of unlawful possession of forged bank notes.
According to the facts from the prosecution, Oduetse Tom and Anja Van Der Merwe were nabbed by the Francistown police on the 4th of September this year after a tip off from the public.
The Police investigation officers went on to probe the allegation and then uncovered that Van Der Merwe, who is the second accused, admitted to having the counterfeit notes but indicated that they were with the other accused. The money found in the women’s possession comprised of 6 duplicates of P200 notes amounting to P1 200.
The facts from prosecution further indicate that during a thorough interrogation by the police officers, the women admitted to have used a Lexmark photo copying machine to make copies of the notes at their work place.
The said forged money was then taken to the Bank of Botswana to determine its authenticity and a certificate was later issued by the Director of the Bank of Botswana, showing that the money was fake.
The forged money, certificate of authenticity and the photocopying machine were all used as exhibits in court.
However, the state prosecutor, Careb Mbenda, maintained in court that the accused committed the offence and acted in common purpose and were in contravention of the law.
On the other hand, the defense lawyer for both the accused women, Francistown lawyer Roger Calendar, pleaded with the court to give the accused a suspended sentence as they were first offenders and had admitted their guilt which saved the court’s time.
“I pray with the court to take into consideration that both of the women are first offenders who are productive members of the society,” he said during mitigation.
He went on to add that the South African citizen, Van Der Merwe, who owns a company in Francistown, had contributed significantly to the welfare of the disadvantaged children through her Social Responsibility Programmes.
“The accused have admitted their guilt; I give them a suspended sentence of 3 months, wholly suspended for 6 months,” Madandume concluded in her judgment.
She added that the accused should not commit a similar offence during those months and maintained that the forged money will be forfeited to the Bank of Botswana.
According to the prosecution, a charge of money forgery can attract a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.