Mmegi Online :: We were held at gunpoint to steal appellants
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We were held at gunpoint to steal appellants

Three inmates convicted of stocktheft say they were held at gunpoint and forced to steal cattle and drive the stock to an undisclosed destination.
By Mpho Mokwape Thu 27 Nov 2014, 13:07 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: We were held at gunpoint to steal appellants








Appearing before the Court of Appeal, Buti Mfolwe, Tebogo Mangadi and Diketso Moilwa told court that the magistrate who convicted and sentenced them failed to acknowledge that they were threatened with a gun to steal the cattle.

Mfolwe and Mangadi are serving five years and Moilwa seven years imprisonment. The trio accused the police of failing to arrest the person who held them at gunpoint to commit the crime. Mfolwe told court that they were acting on strict orders from an armed person who ordered them to select cattle and drive them to a destination of that person’s choice.

“We were caught with the cattle, but it was not our intention to steal them. We were pushed to do so because of the gun that was pointed at us,” said Mfolwe.

He said they were only given the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses but the trial court did not explain the importance of the exercise (cross examination), therefore prejudicing them.

“Being a self actor that I am, the court should have explained to me the purpose and consequences of cross examining witnesses,” he said. He further said they were prejudiced during the trial as the magistrate failed to establish that there were irreconcilable inconsistencies in the state’s case, which tainted their case.

However, state prosecutor Ambrose Mubika said he was not sure why the

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trio raised the issue of being held at gunpoint to steal, yet they failed to report the matter to the police, adding that their defence was an afterthought. Mubika stated that the trial court explained the procedure to the appellants.

 “As a matter of fact, a reading of the entire record, particularly the cross examination of state witnesses leaves one in no doubt at all that the trio displayed high awareness of the relevant issues and the questions they asked were searching and relevant,” he said.

However, Mubika conceded that there were some inconsistencies in the evidence of the state witnesses, but he added that the inconsistencies did not impact on the prosecution’s case.

 He said the only inconsistency was the number of cattle that were stolen by the three men, as some witnesses said seven, whilst others said eight.

“It is the state’s submission that the said inconsistency was not material because the issue in court is not the number of cattle stolen, but the fact that some cattle were stolen by the trio,” he said. He further explained that the magistrate who convicted and sentenced the trio was entitled to convict on the strength of the evidence led by the State, despite the minor and inconsequential inconsistencies.  Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe presided over the case. Judgement is due today.

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