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Key witness AWOL again in Setlampoloka murder trial

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
The suspects in the dock during a previous appearance
The prosecution in a case in which six police officers are accused of murdering Italy Setlampoloka stalled yesterday after prosecutors failed to produce a medical report on whether key witness, Unopa Makhombe is fit to give evidence in court.

The prosecution now has to ensure they have the report at the next appearance in April 2018 where the defence is likely to move for the removal of Makhombe as key witness.

Defence attorneys, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae and Busang Manewe, had demanded that the prosecution provide a medical report detailing if Makhombe can give evidence in court, after he failed to appear for cross-examination on dates set for trial.

Manewe had raised the defence’s concern over Makhombe’s perennial absence.

“The (key) witness has delayed the case a lot and it is costly to our clients.  We need to ascertain that Makhombe is fit to give evidence in the matter so that if he is unfit, he can be removed as a witness and his evidence expunged,” Manewe said. Prosecutor Dumisane Marapo was then granted three weeks by Justice Leatile Dambe to get the report.  However, yesterday Marapo told the court that though they had long written to the Princess Marina Hospital requesting the report, it is yet to be availed to them.

Makhombe is the key witness in

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the case where he made damning claims that he was present when Setlampoloka was strangled to death and witnessed as his body was carried off before it was dumped in the bushes.  As the key witness, he has on many occasions stalled the case where he was meant to give key evidence, citing ill-health for years now.

When Makhombe gave evidence in August, he told the Gaborone High Court that he looked on as the police killed Setlampoloka. However, since then, he has failed to appear three times for cross-examination by Ngakaagae and Manewe, citing poor health.

Setlampoloka was found dead on July 30, 2009, a day after he was arrested by police officers and put in a cell at the Mogoditshane Police Station. He had been arrested by the Serious Crimes Squad on suspicion of possessing guns used in a spate of robberies.

Six police officers are charged with killing him. The officers are Sub-inspector Ranto Mmeleki, Constables Tebogo Khutsafalo, Kabo Ramohibidu, Patrick Gobotswang, Michael Ramhibitswana and Detective assistant Superintendent, Dithuso Dintwe.

 



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