FRANCISTOWN: Three people who were collectively sentenced to 20 years in jail for falsely representing themselves as agents of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) are appealing the jail terms.
In March, principal magistrate, Dumisani Basupi sentenced Alakanani Kiba, a former police officer and Thabo Sello, each to six years in prison while Victor Tachipulu, was given eight years in jail. They were convicted of swindling an Indian businessman of cash after posing as DIS agents.
The trio was initially charged with Alfred Matshambane who later became an accomplice witness in the matter.
On Friday the three appeared before High Court Justice Zibani Makhwade to plead for bail pending appeal.
However, Makhwade said only Tachipulu’s name appeared in the documents before him.
Makhwade told them that since they had been convicted for the same offence, it was best they cumulatively apply for bail. He postponed the matter to August.
When passing sentence in March, Basupi said that Kiba and Sello were first offenders while Tachipulu had previously been convicted of impersonating a person employed in the public service. As a result, Tachipulu was sentenced to a harsher sentence than his two accomplices.
“Tachipulu was also found guilty of illegally dealing in diamonds in 1985. This shows that he is a hard learner who does not want to repent from his past mistakes. The law provides that the accused should be sentenced to no more than 12 years in jail for this offence,” said Basupi. The magistrate questioned why the legislature had not prescribed a mandatory minimum sentence for the offence since it is as serious a matter like rape and robbery offences that attract a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in jail.
Basupi said it was clear from Matshambane’s account that the trio intended to commit an offence.
He said it had been proven that Kiba told Matshambane that they should go to Sebina to arrest a certain Indian businessman while posing as DIS agents.
“This clearly demonstrates that the accused were well aware that they were going to swindle a foreigner. Obviously this tarnishes the image of Botswana before the eyes of the international community when foreigners or even locals are arrested by fake security agents.
“While every matter is dealt with on its on merits or demerits, the fact that you cheated a foreigner further aggravates the matter, in my view,” said Basupi. He said it was still a mystery how the accused managed to get a Government Purchase Order that they flashed at the businessman. “I have no doubt that the actions of the accused will make citizens and foreigners alike revolt in future when dealing with genuine security agents,” said Basupi.
According to the facts put before the court, Kiba, Tachipulu and Sello falsely represented themselves as DIS officers and unlawfully arrested Pankajkumar Shah, an Indian businessman, at Sebina on February 12, 2012.
The accused also defrauded him of P6,200 the same day at Mathangwane. However, the fraud charges were dropped after the accused paid Shah back his money.