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Chaos in Tonota

Tense moments: Riot police often find themselves up against ordinary community members
FRANCISTOWN: Temperatures reached fever pitch in Tonota on Sunday when a group of villagers reportedly went on the rampage damaging properties of some people they suspected of ritual murder.

Yesterday, 15 residents appeared in court to face a slew of charges relating to Sunday’s violence. 

The suspects include Tumelo Motlhabi, Supelo Mpane, Gaone Jimmy, Goitsemang Keduetse, Gaothe Kedietse, Seretshegeng Reeditse, Esther Mohalane, Tshekiso Keeditse, Tebogo Jimmy, Lesego Toteng, Dintle Matsuane, Neo Machoko, Pelonomi Moilwa, Motlalepula Kgagano and Benny Amos.

In the first count, the accused are charged with arson.

The state alleges that they burnt a house belonging to Mobita George at Madisakwana ward on December 10 causing P110,500 damage in the process.

The accused are also charged with destruction of property, which includes P900 damage to the windows at George’s house.  The suspects also damaged car windows, mirrors, lights and body of Kagiso Kenosi’s car, to the tune of P20,000.

Inspector Kenneth Edward told Chief Magistrate Thebeetsile Mulalu that investigations in the matter are still ongoing as the alleged offences were quite fresh.

“We are yet to record statements from potential witnesses. Some accused persons have not yet been arrested,” Edward said.

He said at the centre of the offences is the body of a deceased person who is yet to be buried.  He, however, did not shed more details about the body and how the suspects or the alleged victims in the court case are linked to the deceased.

Tonota police station commander, superintendent Kenanao Badumetse said investigators were still

in the dark as to why the accused went on a rampage.

He said the deceased had been found hanging in the bush in a suspected suicide case.

“The deceased left the place of his employer (George’s place) on November 19 saying that he was going to water donkeys at the dam.

“He was found on November 22 hanging from a tree after his employer reported him missing.

We plead with anyone who may have information about how the deceased died, to brief the police.

We urge members of the public not to take the law into their own hands. They should instead help us with information so that if there is any foul play, the deceased’s killer(s) can be brought to book,” Badumetse said.

Police are opposing bail saying the suspects may interfere with investigations.

“We recently received a tip-off that the accused want to burn Tonota Police Station and the customary court. 

They have been convening illegal meetings, which may destabilise the whole village. We therefore pray that the accused should be further remanded in custody,” Badumetse said.

The 15 villagers were, however, granted bail after magistrate Mulalu noted that the prosecution should have availed the investigating officer to argue for the suspects’ remand in custody and to show how releasing them on bail would interfere with police investigations.




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