FRANCISTOWN: The police believe that they have made a major breakthrough following the arrest of five alleged criminals who have been terrorising the Chinese business community in Francistown by breaking into and stealing from their homes.
The alleged thieves have been giving the Chinese entrepreneurs sleepless nights, stealing valuables, especially electronic gadgets and money from the Chinese nationals’ homes and thereafter selling the goods across the border mainly in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The police believe that a lucrative and ready market for goods stolen in Botswana exists in Zimbabwe and Zambia. But on Monday this week, the gang’s luck ran out after they were arrested for allegedly breaking into and stealing from Song Fang’s house in Molapo Estates on April 12, 2019. The accused are Morris Moffat, 34, Ian Moseki, 42, Mosimanegape Setshego, 35, Maano Malaicha, 37, and Tebogo Lomae, 33.
The gang allegedly stole phones of different models, cameras, laptops, notepads, sneakers, and smart watches amongst other goods worth P23,550 from Song’s home.
Interestingly, Moffat, Lomae and Moseki are also facing charges of breaking into and stealing from another Chinese entrepreneur’s home in Selepa.
The offence was committed in the beginning of this year. Goods worth more than P100,000 were stolen from the Selepa home. Moseki, who is an ex-robbery convict, was just released from jail on bail before the Easter Holidays in connection with the Selepa robbery while Moffat and Lomae were released before him.
When the quintet appeared in court on Wednesday, inspector Cecilia Nchochi said: “Moffat, Moseki and Lomae were on bail for house breaking and stealing from a dwelling house when they committed the current crime. One of their bail conditions was that they should not commit similar crimes whilst on bail. They have breached that condition by committing the current offence. We pray that they should therefore be remanded in custody.” Nchochi further pleaded with the court to remand all five accused because police investigations in the matter were still at their initial stages.
She also added that the accused persons were only arrested on April 22. After the accused’s legal rights were read and explained to them, Moffat told the court that he had intentions of engaging a lawyer while his co-accused said they would conduct their own defences.
Setshego said: “I stay and work in Dukwi. I was just arrested because I was found in the company of my co-accused persons. I am innocent”. In response Senior Magistrate Kose Makobo said: “The problem here is that you were found in the company of other accused persons. So leave the investigating team to do its work and if you are innocent it will establish that”.
Moffat and Malaicha prayed with the court to grant them permission to go to the hospital for medical attention because the police tortured them during interrogation. Magistrate Makobo then made an order that all the accused persons should be remanded in custody pending investigations. She also ordered that Moffat and Malaicha should be taken to the hospital. The accused would appear in court on May 7. Cases of Chinese entrepreneurs being attacked and robbed of their valuables in their shops and homes are well documented in Botswana.
In some instances, the Chinese were also killed after being robbed. That prompted the police to issue a clarion to the Chinese pleading with them to save their moneys at the banks and not keep large amounts of cash at their homes because criminals were targeting them for that money.