FRANCISTOWN: The woes of a gang of eight men who are mostly residents of Somerset East heightened after the woman allegedly wounded in a petrol bomb attack succumbed to injuries she sustained.
According to the police, Maggie Abrahams, 39, was caught in the crossfire over a cellphone feud involving her boyfriend, Tshepo Bhebhe and the gang. The gang, Kabelo Mompati, Kabelo Mantswe (also known as Magomora in social circles), Letlhabile Ditiragalo, Obakeng Sello, Unoziba Buka, Charles Leonard, Obusitse Charlie and four others who are still on the run, went to Abrahams’ house in Selepa on August 16, 2021, to allegedly beat up Bhebhe.
Bhebhe is no stranger to controversy. In 2018, Bhebhe and a Zimbabwean, Thulani Ndiweni, appeared before ex-magistrate Cele Lebakeng for allegedly robbing a Somali entrepreneur Amina Issa of her cellphone worth P200 and other valuables on March 3, 2018, at Block 3.
Since their initial appearance in court, the duo had steadfastly maintained their innocence adding that the police had suffocated co-accused, Boitshepho ‘Bisto’ Kenyaditswe, a former taxi driver until he met his death. On Friday, the situation of the eight men changed for the worst when Charlie, who was recently arrested by the police after some time on the run and was arraigned before Magistrate Thapelo Buang.
Before charges were read to Charlie, prosecutor Koziba Nthanga applied to substitute the charge sheet from the offence of attempted murder to murder following Abrahams’ death.
Nthanga also informed the court that the other seven accused persons implicated in four offences did not manage to appear in court due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Francistown Centre of Illegal Immigrants (FCII) at Gerald Estates.
This is the second outbreak of COVID-19 to hit the FCII following another one in the beginning of August this year. The FCII is partly used as a detention centre for asylum seekers and also as a prison facility by the Botswana Prison Service.
The old Francistown Prison is currently used as a quarantine centre for new inmates on remand, with positive COVID-19 results, before they are transferred to FCII after the mandatory 14 days of quarantine.
On the second count, all the men mentioned earlier in the murder offence are charged with grievous bodily harm.
The state alleges that they acted in concert with a common purpose to willfully and unlawfully set ablaze Bhebhe thereby causing him grievous harm on August 16 at Selepa.
On the third count, the men are facing a charge of criminal recklessness and negligence. The state alleges that the men willfully and unlawfully acted with a common purpose by throwing a combustible bottle of fire at Abrahams’ house despite realising the real risk or possibility that their conduct might endanger human life and as a result of such recklessness, set ablaze Abrahams and Bhebhe thereby causing grievous thermal injuries in such attack.
On the last count, the men are charged with attempted arson that happened on the same date and place. The state alleges that the men willfully and unlawfully acted with a common purpose by setting fire to a house used as a dwelling by Abrahams.
After the charges were read to Charlie, Nthanga asked the court to reserve a plea in all the matters because investigations are ongoing. All the accused persons are expected to appear in court on October 19 for the status update.