A former Debswana employee, Mmabatho Patricia Sekgoma, has been sentenced to three years, wholly suspended, and to a fine of P5000 payable within seven days.
Sekgoma was accused of abducting the son of her alleged married consort, Obed Makhohliso, on March, 24, 2005.
The abduction allegedly followed a quarrel Sekgoma had with his married lover over the maintenance of their love child.
The abducted boy’s mother, Kelebetseng Mugezela, on previous testimony had told the Magistrate Court that she knew that Sekgoma and her husband, Makhohliso, were having an affair.
Mugezela said this under cross examination by Duma Boko. She said she had known about the extra marital affair between the two as far back as 1987 and that her husband confessed to the relationship when she confronted him about the issue. Mugezela said that before then, her husband had told her that he and Sekgomo were just workmates and, at one stage, she had even visited Sekgomo whilst she was sick which she (Sekgomo) said she appreciated.
Mugezela said that soon after that visit, she found out that the two were lovers and not just friends or workmates as was claimed by the accused.
Asked if she knew that her husband had a daughter with Sekgoma, by the name of Shaloma, Mugezela denied knowing about the daughter.
She also denied knowing that on the date her son was abducted, her husband had earlier that day at around 6:30 in the morning visited Sekgoma’s home where a quarrel had ensued between the two when Sekgoma had shown her husband papers from her attorneys on the need to formalize the paying of maintenance for their daughter.
She, however, confirmed that her husband had earlier that day left their home saying he was going to meet a man friend.
Earlier, when giving evidence in chief, Mugezela told the Court that she was on the evening of the date in question telephoned by Naledi Police who told her that they had her son whom they had picked up at the Water Affairs buildings earlier that day.
After that, she said, she phoned the young boy’s father and told him about the phone call from the police and asked him to go to the Police station as well. Arriving at the Naledi Police station, she found his son who later related the events that had happened to him, including the fact that the woman who had collected him from school had promised to take him home but changed the route on the way and that he finally escaped from her custody at the dam.
On arriving home, Mugezela said that his son was able to identify the woman who had abducted her from school from some photographs. Asked under cross examination where the photographs had come from in her home, Mugezela said that she had picked it from her husband Makhohliso’s home in Jwaneng.
Questioned further, she said that she had decided to keep the photograph although she had earlier told the court that she had burnt other photographs of the accused person because she did not want them in her house.
In passing sentence, Chief Magistrate Lot Moroka said that the offence of kidnapping is without doubt one of the most serious in the penal code of Botswana. He said that it is also doubtless that our society is desirous of seeing children playing or going outside their homes without fear of having children kidnapped.
Moroka said the judgment therefore serves as a deterrent to others and the convicted, if she might think of committing the same offence again. He however said that the fact that the convicted has had previous scuffles with the law, as she had three previous convictions of which two were property or theft related, does not influence the judgment as these occurred more than 20 years ago.
He then sentenced her to three years in prison wholly suspended in the case she does not commit the same offence again. Sekgoma was then fined P5000 payable in 7 days, failure of which shall result in a 12 month imprisonment.
After judgment, the convict’s, representative, Duma Boko, said he was glad that the long legal battle was over and did not rule out the possibility of appealing the judgment as he was still going to sit down with his client and map the way forward.