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Murder case dropped after accused languished 7 years

FRANCISTOWN: A Zimbabwean man who was accused of murdering his girlfriend in 2011 walked out of the Francistown High Court a freeman after the state decided not to proceed with a trial.

The accused, Mandla Nyathi, now 26, was accused of killing his girlfriend, Lebogang Ncube, also from Zimbabwe, on July 26, 2011 at a cattle post near Selebi-Phikwe.

Nyathi has been languishing in jail for seven years since he was charged with the offence.

The state feared that Nyathi was a flight risk because he entered Botswana illegally.

But on Tuesday, the state surprised the defence and accused when it filed nolle prosequi papers (unwilling to prosecute or do not prosecute) before Judge President of the Francistown High Court, Lot Moroka.

Before Moroka acceded to the application of the state to drop charges against Nyathi, Nyathi’s attorney Ludo Lowa from Mmohe Attorneys expressed displeasure over the cavalier attitude adopted by the state to drop charges against Nyathi who has been in custody since he was aged 19.

Lowa said it was a miscarriage of justice to drop charges against Nyathi who was arrested on July 31 in 2011.

“We are very disappointed about what the state is saying because we have been coming to court to represent the

accused with the hope that he will one day be tried since he was arrested to no avail.  We wasted a lot of resources to represent the accused,” a worried Lowa said.

Lowa said Nyathi’s case was a clear example of the state’s failure to prosecute accused persons within reasonable time as per the dictates of the Constitution of Botswana.

What worried Lowa to the core was that another person who was charged with Nyathi for a similar offence was long freed by Justice Zibani Makhwade in 2013. 

In its papers before court, the prosecution said that it was dropping charges against Nyathi because it has insufficient evidence to sustain any conviction against him.

Delivering a brief judgment after hearing deliberations from the prosecution and defence, Justice Moroka said that the nolle prosequi will come both as a relief and shock to the accused after he served seven years in jail for nothing without being prosecuted.

“The court be and hereby discharges the accused of the offence he was charged with,” Moroka said.





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