FRANCISTOWN: A criminal syndicate comprising two South Africans and a Zimbabwean, who were found guilty of gun-related offences, were told that they were a serious threat to national security when they were sentenced on Friday.
The trio was each charged with unlawful possession of more than 20 firearms without any licence authorising them to possess such weapons.
On the second count, the trio was thrown into the slammer for unlawful possession of 18 live rounds of ammunition without any licence authorising them to possess the same.
Thirdly, the court convicted the men for entering Botswana through an ungazetted point of entry contrary to Section (4) 1 as read with 32 (a) of the Immigration Act of the Laws of Botswana.
Lastly, the men were sentenced for being found in possession of property (a black Audi Rs56 car) with a false Botswana registration (number B 446 BPC) knowing or having reason to believe the same to have been obtained or stolen outside Botswana.
All the offences happened on October 29, 2021 at Mosetse village.
Magistrate Mopipi sentenced each of the men to a term of seven years for being illegally found with firearms and another seven years for unlawful possession of ammunition.
The Magistrate also fined each of the bandits P3,000 for entering Botswana illegally.
In addition, the foreign nationals each received a suspended three-year jail term for being found with the property stolen outside Botswana on condition that they do not commit a similar offence for a similar period.
The men breathed a sigh of relief after Mopipi made an order that all sentences should run concurrently.
Before passing the sentence, Mopipi said she took into consideration that the convicts pleaded guilty to all the offences thereby saving the court valuable time which is also a sign of remorse on their part.
Mopipi also said she took into consideration that they were each taking care of their family members including their young children whose mothers were unemployed.
However, Mopipi added that the convicts deserved to go to jail because they were a serious threat to national security.
“In recent years, numerous offences which include possession of guns and ammunition have been prevalent in Botswana. These offences pose a serious threat to our national security and should not go unpunished in order to show those who are willing to commit these offences in future that the law abhors such crimes,” she gave a stern warning.
Meanwhile, the convicts’ alleged local counterparts were granted bail in respect of the three counts except for entering Botswana illegally.
The accused, Botlhe Gaopatwe, 26, of Monarch (Phase 5) location and Baliki Kemmonye Gaborone, 36, were granted bail on the condition that they each pay P7,000; they each bring two sureties who shall each bind themselves with P5,000; not interfere with police investigations and/or witnesses; not be reasonably suspected of having committed any offence whilst on bail, and attend court as and when required to do so.
They were granted bail after prosecutor Tawanda Kapongo told the court that the State was not opposed to bail.
“We have received affidavits concerning the phones that were taken from the accused. We will need time to look at the evidence that was found in the phones, but we are not opposed to bail,” Kapongo said.
The duo is due in court in a month.