Arsonistís bail conditions relaxed

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LOBATSE: A 24-year-old Beetsha man, Helman Coster who is yet to face trial in a case in which he is charged with burglary and theft, arson and malicious damage to property worth more than P3million, will now be admitted to a free bail instead of the initial P5,000 cash bail.

The accused made his plea to have his bail conditions varied before senior magistrate William Modise yesterday. In the case, Coster is alleged to have on the night of July 6, 2017 broken into a farm office at Betta Beef Farms in Lobatse and stole a computer and an iPad worth P20,000. On count two, the accused is alleged to have intentionally set a farm house worth P2.9 million on fire before proceeding to damage other farm property worth P600,000. The police said P15,000 and R1,500 notes were also destroyed during the fire.

The accused said he could not meet the bail conditions because they were unfavourable. “The prosecution brought the case before court and they are the ones who suggested that I may be given bail. I have been granted bail but, I cannot manage to meet its conditions because I am unemployed. “The conditions are not considerate to my situation. I cannot be able to source P5,000 for myself and for my sureties. Trial will commence very soon, but I have not been able to secure an attorney.

If the conditions are relaxed, I could be able to sell some of my property and engage a lawyer because the case is just too serious,” he said.The prosecutor, sub Inspector Legodile Sennafela said the accused person is not trustworthy, hence the need for him to pay for bail. The prosecutor however gave the court a go ahead to “give the accused person the benefit of the doubt”.

“Investigations are almost complete in this case, and trial date has been set and the accused has had bail conditions varied in the previous court appearances. The accused person knows why he is still remanded in custody; he attempted to escape.

He is not trustworthy, hence he needs to pay for his release. Where are we going to find him if he absconds? “The state reluctantly leaves the matter to the court to give the accused the benefit of the doubt,” he said. Modise said the relaxed conditions allowed the accused person to bind himself with P2,000 instead of initial P5,000. Two biologically related sureties will now have to bind themselves with P1,000 instead of the initial P5,000. Other bail conditions such as reporting to Lobatse police station weekly, attending all scheduled court seating and refraining from similar offences remained unchanged. Trial has been set for April 3 and 5 next year and the accused person is remanded in custody until he meets the bail conditions. The next mention is on October 31.

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