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Moatlhodi case: State dumps reconciliation, wants trial

LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
Tonota MP, Pono Moatlhodi PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
FRANCISTOWN: Legal woes seem to be stalking Tonota MP, Pono Moatlhodi, as the Directorate of Public Prosecutions threw out its reconciliation offer and is now pushing for the assault case of a 12-year-old to proceed.

The decision to go for trial is a major setback for Moatlhodi, who is still smarting from his suspension from the Botswana National Front (BNF), an affiliate of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). Moatlhodi, among other reasons, was accused of bringing the name of the party into disrepute.

In his assault case, the state alleges that the maverick UDC legislator and married couple, Maranyane Kebitsang, 68, and Nnyana Kebitsang, 61, acting together in concert, assaulted the 12-year old in Tonota on January 30 last year. 

The trio is alleged to have thereafter unleashed a vicious dog to bite the child, causing him puncture wounds and bruises on his face and body contrary to the Children’s Act. 

In the past, police stated that the minor incurred the wrath of the accused after he allegedly stole some mangoes from the Kebitsangs homestead. 

One of the accused, Maranyane, has since died. Before DPP director, Stephen Tiroyakgosi, ordered that Moatlhodi and Nnyana proceed to trial, the prosecution and defence were still exploring the issue of a possible reconciliation.

The accused, through their attorney, Martin Maiba, and the DPP’s Gaone Miller had consented that Moatlhodi and Nnyana should compensate the complainant with P40,000 in order for charges against them to be stayed. 

However, things took a different twist today when the accused appeared in court.

Miller, who appeared together with a social worker, shocked the accused and their attorney when she told the court that there was now a change of circumstances in the matter.

Miller told the court that she had received communication from the director of DPP to the effect that the state was now abandoning the issue of reconciliation and instead, the matter should now proceed for trial.

Miller’s words shocked the accused and their attorney who even expressed displeasure at the new turn of events.

Maiba told the court that

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the new development was prejudicial to his clients since the prosecution and defence had already consented to reconciliation.

When talking about the new development, Chief Magistrate Faith Dlamini-Nga’ndu said that the new turn of events was unfortunate, but it was not up to the court to decide whether parties can reconcile or not. 

She said Section 321 (1) and (2) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which talks about reconciliation in criminal cases, reads: “(1) In criminal cases a magistrate's court may, with the consent of the prosecutor, promote reconciliation, and encourage and facilitate the settlement, in an amicable way, of proceedings for assault or for any other offence of a personal or private nature not aggravated in degree, on terms of payment of compensation or other terms approved by such court, and may, thereupon, order the proceedings to be stayed.”

“(2) If the proceedings are stayed, they shall be stayed for a sufficient length of time to enable the terms of the settlement to be carried out and if the terms be carried out by that date, it shall be recorded on the record to the case and the accused discharged; if the terms have not been carried out, the case against the accused will then proceed unless the proceedings be further stayed.”

Dlamini-Nga’ndu said that the matter was coming to court in terms of Section 321 adding that the court has not made an order on the issue of reconciliation. 

“All that was before court and was a mere proposal suggested by both parties. I don’t see how any of the parties would suffer prejudice if the matter now goes for trial.  I will therefore allow the matter to go for trial,” Dlamini-Nga’ndu said.

The matter was set for mention on December 3, 2020 to set new trial dates in 2021.



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