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Verdict reserved in ‘stolen’ copper case

MPHO MOKWAPE
The case revolves around the base metal
Gaborone High Court judge, Terrence Rannowane has reserved judgement in a case in which a local copper dealer had taken police to court seeking the release of his company’s copper.

Justice Rannowane yesterday reserved judgement following Mehakar Singh’s application that an order be issued against the police to release the seized copper.

The local dealer, whom police believe is part of a syndicate dealing with the stripping and selling of illegal copper wires to South Africa, has been in a legal wrangle for two years with the police over the seized copper.

Police said they suspect the seized copper to be the property of the country’s two largest owners of copper wires, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Botswana Telecommunications Limited (BTCL).

In the papers before court submitted by Singh’s attorney Othusitse Mbeha, the copper dealer said it was about time the police released the property, as it had been two years since the seizure. He argued that the seizure was unreasonable and without basis especially since the police had allegedly failed to prove their allegations for the past two years.

“The police know I am a legit dealer and that’s why to this day they are saying they are still investigating the matter. The two companies (BPC and BTCL) could have long

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been called to identify their copper if it was stolen,” Singh’s court papers state.

Singh maintained that he had cooperated with the police and had provided all the documents required as proof that he was a legitimate dealer and sole owner of the said copper wires.

The State in replying papers opposed Singh’s application, arguing that the matter was still under investigation since they were dealing with a large amount of copper that could also be involving a large syndicate.

The State explained that the delay was also due to the fact that the police officers who were originally tasked with investigating the matter were interdicted from continuing on the basis that they had connived with the suspect.

“This is a complex matter and through the investigations, it has come to light that there is a possible syndicate behind this. The two companies also have to identify if the copper belongs to them and it’s a process. Also the interdiction of the former police investigators of the matter has contributed to the delay,” reads a document from the State.



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