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Cab driver murder suspects spend Christmas in jail

PINI BOTHOKO
Gaonakala and Kgogo. PIC. KENNEDY RAMOKONE
A couple suspected to have robbed and killed Moemedi Ranthoka, a Deluxe cab driver on November 29, 2017 in Mogoditshane will spend Christmas in prison after their remand was extended yesterday.

Broadhurst Magistrate, Gennai Jensen denied the accused persons, Kgotlaetsile Leonard Gaonakala (24) and his girlfriend Tsholofelo Kgogo (25) bail after the duo pleaded for bail when appearing for mention.

Representing the State, Tsogo Rantopa had pleaded with court to further remand the accused persons in custody, as the police have not yet completed their investigations.

He told the court that the police have not completed carrying out interviews from its potential witnesses hence pleading with court to grant the prosecution time to complete their investigations. “We fear that if they can be granted bail, they might interfere or intimidate the prosecutions’ potential witnesses whom the police are yet to interview. The prosecution can in the next mention avail the Investigating Officer (IO) in the case to update court on the progress of the investigations and whether it will be possible for the accused persons to be granted bail or not,” Rantopa said.

Rantopa said the duo is facing a serious offence of murder and the case was only registered on December 1, hence still fresh in the minds of the community as well as the deceased’s family and they are likely to pose danger to them if granted bail.

Appearing on behalf of Gaonakala, Tendai Mandikate objected to prosecution’s request to further remand the accused for the sole reasons that 16 days later after their arrests, the prosecution is yet to interview its potential witnesses.

“This approach is wrong and flouts the accused persons’ constitutional rights and their right to liberty. This court can deny the accused persons bail if it fears that they can abscond court appearance but court can ensure that they attend court by giving them conditions for bail.

“I submit that for the police to deny them bail on such basis, denying Gaonakala his liberty is wrong. Murder is a serious crime and we take caution on that, however it is much more different from crimes like rape or assault where the victim is still existing, therefore in such cases, the prospect of interfering becomes an issue to be handled with car,e but in this case the victim is not existing,” he said.

He however went on to disclose to court that Gaonakala is a young man, a father of a seven-months-old girl and he is self-employed with

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a company to manage.

“Despite the weight of the offence he is faced with, Gaonakala is entitled to work and support his child. I have heard that the prosecution is yet to interview its potential witnesses, but this court can specially direct the accused person not to contact or come close to such particular persons. Gaonakala is a suitable candidate for bail, hence reasonable bail conditions can be imposed on him,” he said.

The defence counsel also argued that there was no evidence that has been demonstrated by prosecution, stating that Gaonakala can interfere with investigations.

Representing herself, Kgogo pleaded with the court to grant her bail, stating that she has a three-year-old child to look after and also to continue with her studies as she has intentions to further her studies.

Rantopa told court that he heard the accused persons’ pleas and Gaonakala’s attorney making reference to the Constitution, but it does not do away with some individuals’ rights.

“It does not centre around accused persons only; it does protect the right of everyone. I have previously mentioned that we are yet to interview potential witnesses which some of them are relatives to the deceased.

 “The deceased was buried only seven days ago and cases of this nature have the interest of the society, and constitutionally they also need that protection as they can react to such a case,” Rantopa said.

Magistrate Jensen further remanded the accused persons in custody, reminding them that they are charged with serious offences of robbery and murder, hence the need for the police to be given enough time to carry out its investigations.

She said it was too early for the accused persons to be granted bail, hence further remanding them. They have the right to appeal her ruling to the High Court if they are not satisfied, she added.

“You will appear for another mention on December 28th for extension of remand because it is festive season and the police will be faced with other responsibilities, hence possible for them not to find time to interview all of their potential witnesses, especially that they can travel as we approach the holidays. You can only apply for bail next year because the case is still fresh and this is your second appearance,” Jensen said.



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