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Multiple-robbery suspect denied bail

LEBOGANG MOSIKARE
Francistown High Court PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: A man who apparently cannot refrain from causing trouble was Wednesday denied bail by Justice Tshegofatso Mogomotsi following his spirited attempt to gain his freedom back.

The applicant, Tshepang Bonkgonne, left the court disappointed after it dismissed his bail application outright because he had a penchant for committing more offences and not attending court whilst on bail.

When denying Bonkgonne bail, Justice Mogomotsi said that according to the affidavit of the Investigations Officer (IO), Bonkgonne has housebreaking offences in the Palapye magisterial jurisdiction. Mogomotsi added that the IO also stated that Bonkgonne has other robbery cases in the Selebi-Phikwe jurisdiction that were withdrawn with liberty to reinstate by the State because Bonkgonne“disappeared without trace after he was charged with the offences.”

As if that was not enough, Justice Mogomotsi said that the IO’s affidavit also states that Bonkgonne has a pending rape case.

“The applicant has approached this court applying for bail pending trial. His bail application before the Chief Magistrate in Palapye has failed. He is facing two counts of housebreaking… According to the IO, some of the charges against the applicant were withdrawn by the prosecution with liberty to reinstate them because some of his co-accused persons had escaped but have since been re-arrested,” said the judge.

She reiterated the position of the IO that the applicant was a flight risk because he escaped from Selebi-Phikwe in 2018 after he was charged with an offence.

“The applicant has never disputed this averment, which the court believes is an admission on his part. His failure to dispute this averment is consistent with the ruling of the Chief Magistrate in Palapye which was delivered in August which also stated that none of the applicant’s co-accused never appeared in court,” the judge pointed out.

The Palapye Magistrate, Mogomotsi added, complimented what the IO said.

“The ruling of the magistrate in Palapye shows that the applicant never understood the import of why the State withdrew some of the cases against him. The offences that the accused is facing are very serious. He has at this point been furnished with statements of witnesses in all the cases that he is charged with,” said Mogomotsi.

In her view, he (the applicant) has

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already read those statements and may have weighed his prospects of success and seen that there was overwhelming evidence against him that may lead him to spend a very long period in jail hence the prosecution has submitted that he was a flight risk.

The courts should, when passing their rulings take the interests of the accused, judiciary as a whole and society before granting bail.

Quoting case law, Mogomotsi explained that law makes it clear that all accused persons should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, but the same Constitution can also curtail this fundamental right if there are plausible reasons for doing so.

“One of the most fundamental factors to consider when granting bail is whether or not the accused will appear in court as and when required to do so…The applicant’s antecedents show that even if the accused is granted bail with stringent conditions to make sure that he appears in court, he still absconds from doing so. The applicant is a person whose actions have resulted in other innocent members of society losing their properties and dignity. In the circumstances, granting him bail will only lead to a perpetuation of his actions and endanger society. The applicant should also be protected against himself by keeping him in jail,” said Mogomotsi.

The Administration of Justice, Mogomotsi added, will be greatly prejudiced if the applicant was granted bail because more resources will be used to look for him should he abscond from attending trial at the expense of taxpayers.

“Since the applicant has a propensity of not attending court whilst on bail, this will adversely affect the smooth finalisation of cases because some witnesses will relocate which will require additional resources to look for him…” said Mogomotsi.

She added: “Under the circumstances, I find that the interests of justice and society far outweigh the interest of the applicant. There is a very high probability that the applicant may abscond from court to answer for his various charges when granted bail. His application is therefore dismissed.”



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