Lehupu denied bail again

Lehupu during a previous court appearance
Lehupu during a previous court appearance

Molepolole:Aobakwe Lehupu, who allegedly killed four members of his family last May, will have to stay behind bars longer than he bargained for.

The 23-year-old murder suspect was denied bail after Gaborone High Court judge Michael Mothobi rejected his application yesterday.

He awaits trial for four counts of murder, two counts of arson, two counts of attempted murder, and two counts of threat to kill.

Lehupu allegedly killed four of his family members in Ratshere lands, about 50 kilometres from Molepolole. It is also alleged that he torched a hut in which his grandmother and niece were in, burning them to death before hacking his aunt and grandfather.

Denying him bail, Mothobi said Lehupu was still not a good candidate as he was facing serious charges and that he had not brought any new information from his previous bail application. “The accused person has been considered not a good candidate for bail,” Justice Mothobi said. He said Lehupu failed to convince the court that he would not abscond if given bail and that he would abide by the rules in the days leading up to trial. “How can we be sure that you won’t be like others who say they won’t abscond next thing you hear they have crossed the border and are in South Africa or elsewhere.  I say your merits for this application are not sufficient enough,” Mothobi said.

On the urgency of the application, Mothobi said he did not see anything special about Lehupu’s case that needed immediate attention.

He said that Lehupu would have to go through a normal process the next time he applies for bail.  This is the second time Lehupu’s bail has been denied after Justice Bengbame Sechele did likewise last year. Earlier on Lehupu had submitted he would not be a flight risk as suspected.

“The charges I am facing are serious.  I am still a suspect and I am a resident of Botswana.  I do not know any other country except this one so I will not run away,” he said.

He further submitted that his living conditions in prison were not conducive. He said he also has good relations with his remaining family members, as they do not seem to hold any grudges against him.

In a previous bail opposition, Kutlo Tshekane of the prosecution submitted that they feared Lehupu would be a major flight risk if released on bail.

“The prosecution intends to oppose bail made by the accused person primarily on the grounds that he is a flight risk, as he will not have a settled place to abode should he be granted bail,” he said.

“It would be cumbersome to locate the accused person, as his family also rejects him as all the gruesome acts he is alleged to have committed were perpetrated against his family by himself,” he said.

He added that the remaining family members live in fear of the accused. Tsekane had further submitted to the court that it would not be fair for the court to grant the accused bail, since that would mean Lehupu would return to society. The state lawyer had also submitted: “The evidence against the accused person is of a compelling nature and the crimes carry a maximum sentence of a death penalty.  If granted bail there is great fear that he would flee and not be available for trial”.

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