FRANCISTOWN: Five men inclusive of two Batswana, two South Africans and a Zimbabwean are in serious trouble following their arrest for ‘possession of arms and ammunition and an alleged expensive stolen car worth more than P1 million’.
In the second count, the state alleges that all the accused were unlawfully found in possession of 18 live rounds of ammunition at or near Mosetse without any licence authorising them to possess the same.
Thirdly, the state alleges that Ncube, Ndimande and Mkhize allegedly entered Botswana through an ungazetted point of entry contrary to Section (4) 1 as read with 32 (a) of the Immigration Act of the Laws of Botswana.
In the fourth offence, the state alleges that the accused were found in possession of a property (black Audi Rs56 car) with a false Botswana registration (number B 446 BPC) knowing or having reason to believe the same to have been obtained or stolen outside Botswana.
All the offences were allegedly committed on October 29, 2021.
When the duo appeared before Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi on Tuesday for status update and ruling in relation to a bail application that was made by Gaopatwe, Moffat Dick form the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) applied for the substitution of the charge sheet and introduction of the a new count (being in possession of property stolen outside Botswana).
Dick continued: “We therefore, pray that the charges be read to the accused and their pleas reserved. Our investigations are still ongoing. We are currently awaiting the results of the forensic analysis regarding the firearms. We are currently liaising with the police in South Africa regarding the car that was allegedly stolen there. The South African police have now managed to locate the owner of the car. The South African police are further showing interest in prosecuting the accused persons in South Africa in relation to the car. We will look into the process of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and whether it is feasible to extradite the accused to South Africa so that they can be tried there. We are currently engaged with Interpol regarding that.”
Dick added that: “The South African police have further told us that the owner of the car was allegedly dispossessed of her property in a hijacking incident which involved the use of firearms. We therefore are still minded to make another application for the accused to be further remanded in custody because investigations are still ongoing. Although we are mindful that some of them want to plead guilty to the offences, it will not be legally prudent for the accused to do so at this stage because our investigations are still ongoing. Since other accused persons minus Gaopatwe have already been denied bail, his co-accused may approach the High Court if they still want to pursue bail applications.”
Attorney Martin Maiba who represents Gaopatwe, a resident of Monarch Phase 5 in Francistown, who was also holding brief for counsel Kagiso Jani for Ncube, Ndimande and Mkhize, clarified before court that Ncube and Gaborone have not applied for bail.
Maiba added: “The accused who want to plead guilty to the offences levied against them are Ncube, Ndimande and Mkhize. I am only that we should be given the earliest possible mention date since the accused have shown that they don’t want to waste the court’s valuable time.”
At the end of the mention, Magistrate Mopipi made an order for the accused to be further remanded in custody and appear in Court on December 14 for status update and ruling on bail.
Meanwhile, during the accused’s previous appearance in court, the prosecution was of the view that the accused were probably on a mission to sell the Audi car possibly in Zimbabwe or Zambia.
The state was also of the position that because the accused were allegedly found in illegal possession of arms and ammunition, it cannot be ruled out that they also harboured intentions to carry out armed robbery cases in Botswana.
The state premised its suspicions on the rising incidents of armed robbery cases that are currently besieging the country and which in some instances involve Batswana and nationals from South Africa and Zimbabwe.