Mysterious fire destroys exhibit in police custody

FRANCISTOWN: In an incident resembling a scene from a Hollywood blockbuster, seven men appeared in court to face charges in which a police exhibit storeroom was allegedly burnt and exhibits from the room destroyed.

The state alleges that Wazha Nthoiwa, Nchidzi Bakhobi, Terence Molefe, Tholego Mphapho, Galemong Latlhelang and two others acting jointly, set fire to an exhibit room and in the process, burnt dagga that was inside the room at Botswana police Northern Division Headquarters. The incident occurred between August 22 and 23 2015.

In the second count, the state alleges that the accused knew that the dagga may be used as exhibit in proceedings against Nthoiwa, will fully removed it from the exhibit room.

Assistant Superintendent Lapologang Moatshe told the court that the investigations were continuing.

“Investigations in the matters are still ongoing. The recovered exhibits will be sent to the forensic laboratory for analysis.

We will seek technical help from other police stations. The accused are currently remanded in custody but we do not oppose that they be given bail,” said Moatshe.

Scores of those who attended the proceedings made murmurs after Moatshe said he did not oppose their bail application, prompting the presiding magistrate to call them to order.  Moatshe proposed condition that the accused persons report at Francistown Central police station on Monday and Friday between working hours, should not interfere with witnesses or investigation, and appear in court as and when needed.

In addition, Moatshe applied that the accused shall appear before investigators as and when required.

However, the last condition did not go down well with defence attorneys.

Counsel Mboni Manyothwane said the condition has legal consequences that may prejudice the accused if they meet investigators in their (attorneys) absence.

“We want to appear with the accused to safeguard their constitutional rights. We feel that it should not be taken as a condition for bail,” said Manyothwane.

Chief Magistrate Gaedupe Makgatho granted the accused bail on condition that they enter into their own recognisance of P5, 000, do not interfere with witnesses or investigations, and that they report to the Central police station every Monday and Friday between 7 am and 4 pm.

The case started late, as its original file was nowhere to be seen. After the disappearance of the original file, one of the accused’s attorney, Kagiso Jani said the accused are facing holding charges, which may change.

Unconfirmed reports are that investigations have commenced to find out how the file might have been misplaced or disappeared.

The reports also state that two police officers, based at Central police station, were questioned about the charges the accused are facing.

After the accused were granted bail, the mood at the court resembled last week’s euphoria that gripped the country after Botswana beat Burkina Faso in a recent CAF game.

Taxi drivers honked their cars horns in support of one of their colleague who is also charged with the offences.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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