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COVID-19 Delays DIS Agent Choppies Robbery Case

COVID-19 Delays DIS Agent Choppies Robbery Case
FRANCISTOWN: The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Gaborone has brought a case in which a Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) agent is accused of robbing Choppies Supermarket at gun and knife point to a screeching halt.

The agent, Derrick Masukula, 41, is alleged to have acted in concert with Mogomotsi Thupane, 37, Aaron Sanana, 40, Thato Moatshe, 31, and Ronald Dipholo, 49.

In the robbery case, the State alleges that the accused robbed Choppies Supermarket along Haskins Street of money amounting to P181,180.35 using a pistol and knife on August 1, 2020.

The State alleges that during the robbery, the accused also stole Botswana Telecommunications (BTC) Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards worth P80 and Mascom SIM cards also worth P80. The accused allegedly used violence on some Choppies employees when they committed the offence.

In the second count, the quintet is charged with malicious damage to property. The particulars of the offence are that the accused destroyed two doors valued at P4,000 belonging to Choppies still on August 1.

When the accused appeared before Chief Magistrate Faith Dlamini-Nga’ndu on Thursday, prosecutor Sesafeleng Dijeng told the court that investigations into the matter are still continuing because the Investigations Officer (IO) was unable to meet some of the accused persons because they were in quarantine due to COVID-19.

“The court ordered the accused persons to be quarantined during their last appearance due to fears that they may have contracted coronavirus after they travelled from Gaborone to Francistown and back to Gaborone under unclear circumstances since the Greater Gaborone Zone was in lockdown. The IO has therefore, not managed to meet all the accused persons in order to interview them. The IO also suffered the same fate as the accused after he was quarantined when he returned from Gaborone after he went there for further investigations,” Dijeng said.

Dijeng added that so far investigations have not borne all the desired fruits because the prosecution has not managed to contact people who some of the accused persons bought cars from with the suspected stolen money.

“Information from the department of transport is

only giving the prosecution the names of the people who sold the cars to the accused but not their contact numbers. Therefore, the IO still has to physically locate these people,” Dijeng, who further prayed for the accused to be further remanded in custody, said.

Attorney Kagiso Jani who is representing Sanana and Masukula said the update given by the prosecution in court shows that there was some change of circumstances in the case.

“It was alleged that the second accused (Sanana) is wanted for murder, but he has never been asked about the 2014 murder since he was incarcerated. The bank account of Masukula who was only implicated in the matter because some monies found in his bank account are alleged to be part of the loot has since been frozen and there is no way he can have access to that money. He should therefore, be granted bail. All in all, I will like the court to assess all the accused individually and consider granting them bail,” Jani submitted.

Meanwhile, Dipholo was arrested after the other accused persons also failed in his bid to be granted bail.

Dipholo told the court that he handed himself to the police after learning that they were looking for him.

Dipholo added that because he handed himself to the police, it was a sign that he was not a flight risk.

At the end of the accused’s appearance in court, Dlamini-Nga’ndu said that from the submissions of the prosecution, it was clear that there were some loose ends that the prosecution still has to tie regarding their investigations.

“If those investigations are not done, it will later jeopardise the State’s case. The accused are therefore, further remanded in custody. The prosecution is also advised to expedite their investigations. The accused shall appear in court on September 17 for status update,” Dlamini-Nga’ndu said.


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