Kanye Principal Magistrate Janet Phosa has postponed ruling on the bail application by three of the seven suspects in a cash loan robbery.
A police officer and a suspect died in the fire exchange that ensued before the suspects were arrested, in the Kanye robbery, three weeks ago.
The trio, Evans Mhiwatiwa (43) from Zimbabwe, Gaofenngwe Seitiso (34) of Kanye and Thuso Tankomane (28) from Molepolole applied for bail on Tuesday.
Together with four others that were not before court, they are alleged to have robbed a cash loan company at gun point in Kanye and are facing five counts including armed robbery, murder, attempted murder, unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
Magistrate Phosa was expected to make a ruling yesterday but requested more time. She further explained that she needed time to look at both the submissions of the prosecution and those of the defence in respect that the Investigating Officer was able to update the court on the progress of investigations.
“I am aware that submissions have been made and the court was only waiting for the update from the investigating officer on the progress of investigations and I cannot make a ruling now as was expected, it’s a matter that needs more time”, she said.
Earlier on, the investigation officer, detective assistant superintendent, Ranchi Olebile submitted that the incident was a cross-border crime, for which investigations needed liaison with their Zimbabwean counterparts.
He also said the police needed more time and resources to make a breakthrough on the investigations, as they were forced to travel between Botswana and Zimbabwe. “For now the two suspects believed to be Zimbabweans are still at large, other exhibits are missing, including a pistol which was used in the robbery. We are working with the Zimbabwean Interpol,” he said.
Olebile also said he was yet to meet with the immigration officers in Zimbabwe to verify the authenticity of the fourth suspects’ passport, as they believed it was not his and that he had given police the wrong names during his arrest.
Olebile said it was in the best interest of the society and the police department who are still aggrieved by the shooting of a police officer that the suspects be remanded in custody. “Residents of this village and the police fraternity are still angry, sad and scared of what transpired, it is reason enough that this court make them feel safe and keep the accused behind bars,” he stressed.
He further pointed out that the third accused (Tankomane) had a pending case of armed robbery before the Molepolole Magistrate Court committed in 2008 of which he was given bail for with conditions.
“There is no guarantee that the suspect if for now is given bail, will stick to the conditions because he has a case that he was given bail for and he still went and committed another crime”, he said.
However, countering the Olebile’s findings on the case, attorney for Tankomane, Aobakwe Monamo said there was no law that gave an absolute rule that suspects should be held in custody while investigations were ongoing.
He said no law stipulated that suspects should be denied their liberty at the expense of police officers, who were failing to speed up investigations.
“The police are not employing enough manpower to speed up the investigations looking at the seriousness of the matter, but they still want to deny the suspects liberty so they finish their investigations”, he said. Noah Rutherford represents Mhiwatiwa, while Sesupo Masaka represents Seitiso together with fourth accused Malibongwe Moyo. Moyo was shot in the leg during the shoot-out with police and was admitted at Princess Marina Hospital. He failed to appear in court twice reportedly due to ill health. He has now been released from hospital and is back in police custody.