FRANCISTOWN: Magistrate Ishmael Molobe has said there may have been collusion between 18 prisoners who escaped from a prison facility and prison authorities in January at Gerald Estates.
Molobe said so when passing a six-month jail term sentence against Goodwin Mapunganyika yesterday.
Mapunganyika, who is also facing various serious offences of robbery and murder, had previously admitted the offence of escaping from lawful custody at the Francistown Centre of Illegal Immigrants (FCII).
The FCII is being used as a prison facility because the old Francistown State Prison is currently undergoing renovations.
The magistrate said he was still baffled by how the prisoners managed to scale over the prison’s barbed wire fence in broad daylight in the presence of prison guards.
Escaping from prison, Molobe stated, is a serious offence because people who are accused of having committed offences and those who are found guilty are not supposed to free themselves from lawful custody.
“I am of the view that how the accused escaped from lawful custody should be investigated further…How they managed to escape from prison may have been an inside job among prison authorities.
This incident should be investigated further if prison authorities are to keep the trust that members of the public expect from them,” said
Molobe said in his view, how the prisoners managed to escape from jail reduce their moral blameworthiness.
“The sentence I will pass should therefore reflect this serious concern. The accused is sentenced to six months in jail. His sentence shall commence today.
He is at liberty to appeal his sentence in 14 days,” said Molobe. Earlier, prosecutor Archie Makgoa told the court that two of the accused in the matter are still in Zimbabwe awaiting extradition to Botswana.
He called the investigating officer, detective Superintendent Thomas Letebele to brief the court about how far his investigations are.
Letebele said investigations in the matter are ongoing save for the arrest of eight inmates who are still at large and the extradition of two others who were arrested in Zimbabwe.
“We don’t have a problem with the setting of trial dates in this matter, but I am not sure when inmates who were arrested in Zimbabwe will be extradited because this matter involves two countries,” said Letebele.
The accused are due in Court on June 13 for status report.