FRANCISTOWN: Justice Bashi Moesi on Friday ruled that three men from Malawi who are each facing five counts of promotion of trafficking in persons have a case to answer. The trio; John Mayodi, Enock Nkatha and Gaston Kamanga were arrested at Botswana’s Kazungula border post with Zambia on July 11, 2016.
They had through their attorney, Morris Ndawana, made an application for a no case to answer. They allegedly promoted the trafficking of Sakina Estoni, Mary Mhone, Malise Biston, Graig Kapota and Tomasi Chirwa who are all citizens of Malawi. Reading a lengthy judgement, Moesi said all the alleged victims of trafficking vehemently denied that the accused persons trafficked them from Malawi en route through Botswana to South Africa.
Instead, Moesi said, the alleged victims told the court that their relatives in South Africa asked the accused persons to assist them (victims) to travel from Malawi to South Africa. He stated that all the victims, save for one, had valid passports, adding that others were found in possession of travelling documents that only allowed them to pass through Zambia and not Botswana after the police arrested them at Kazungula border post. Conversely, Moesi noted that all the accused persons had valid passports. Moesi said the investigating officer in the matter, Akanyang David, testified that they arrested the victims after discovering that they didn’t know where they were going to in South Africa.
“The investigating officer then came to the conclusion that the victims were trafficked and were going to work as slaves in South Africa where they going to be exposed to abuse… The victims said they left Malawi voluntarily but some of them didn’t have travelling documents,” said Moesi. At the end of his lengthy ruling, Moesi said bearing in mind the gravity of the offence, the accused allegedly committed and having considered arguments raised by both the defence and prosecution, he painstakingly came to the conclusion that the accused have a prima facie case to answer. “The accused’s application for a no case to answer has failed. They shall be put to their defence…Their bail is extended to April
The accused were granted bail on condition that they must not go to Kasane, specifically Kazungula border gate and any other border gate or any other official international transit or departure point in Botswana. Additionally, the accused must not go within five kilometres of any of Botswana’s international borders. The accused, Moesi stated, must furnish Tatitown Police Station with the details of their physical address in Francistown at which they will reside, adding that this means that the applicants must live and sleep at those addresses each night. “The applicants must report at Tatitown police station on Sundays and Wednesdays between 7:30am and 5pm. Pending the finalisation of the principal case, the applicants must each bind themselves with P15,000. If they fail to attend court on any appointed day, they then shall pay the amount of the bond to the State and forfeit their bail,” Moesi ordered.
He added that the applicants must each provide a surety (either a citizen of Botswana or a person who is a permanent resident in Botswana) to bind themselves in the same amount to ensure that the applicants attend court or pay the state if they fail to attend court on any scheduled date. The judge also said it was open to the State to demand in writing without resorting to the court that applicants must abide by a curfew between specified hours should they fall foul of any of the conditions stipulated above. Finally, it shall be open to the state if it is in its interest and within its means or capabilities to do so, Moesi noted, to use electronic tagging and monitoring devices to monitor the applicants’ compliance with their conditions as stipulated above.