FRANCISTOWN: Accusations and denials reached fever pitch at Courtroom 3 of the Magistrates’ court on Friday after two robbery-accused persons implicated the police in the death of another co-accused person.
The accused, Thulani Ndiweni, 42, and Tshepo Bhebhe, 32, are charged with robbing a Somali businesswoman Amina Issa of her cellphone worth P200 and other valuables on March 3, 2018 at Block 3.
Since their initial appearance in court, the duo has steadfastly maintained their innocence adding that the police suffocated co-accused, Boitshepho ‘Bisto’ Kenyaditswe, a former taxi driver, until he met his death.
The duo claims that police officers circumvented arrest procedures by torturing them in custody in order to extract confessions.
The State also alleges that the duo entered Botswana using ungazetted points of entry during dates unknown to the prosecution. When the duo appeared in court on Friday, the prosecutor in the matter, assistant Superintendent Goitsemang Ramatatome called the investigating officer in the case, Amogelang Bongwe to furnish reasons why the accused should be denied bail. Bongwe told the court that investigations in the matter are still continuing.
He added: “After arresting the accused we discovered that they did not have travel documents, a permanent place of abode and gainful employment in Botswana… “We are also on the lookout for other suspects who are on the run and we have not recovered the stolen goods. The maximum penalty for armed robbery is 20 years and some strokes, hence we make an application
When cross-examining the investigating officer, Ndiweni asked Bongwe if he had recovered any of the stolen property from him to which Bongwe answered in the negative.
Ndiweni put it to Bongwe that he conducted an identification parade at which the complainant identified Kenyaditswe as the culprit who robbed her.
He repeated his claim that Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officers suffocated Kenyaditswe to extract a confession from him until he died.
In response Bongwe said: “The accused’s statement is neither here nor there and is totally devoid of the truth…The accused is talking about someone not before court which constrains me to talk about that person”.
Ndiweni then reiterated that he knew nothing about the robbery adding that contrary to assertions made by the investigating officer, an identification parade was conducted at which Issa identified Kenyaditswe as the person who robbed her.
Bhebhe also cross-examined Bongwe along the same lines asking Bongwe why he said he (Bhebhe) committed the offence. Bongwe said: “Bisto (Kenyaditswe) is the one who implicated you in the commission of offence but he is unfortunately dead”.
Magistrate Cele Lebakeng denied the accused bail based on reasons advanced by the prosecution. The accused are due in court on April 25.