'Petrol bomb attackers’ beef up legal team

A petrol bomb was allegedly used to commit the offence
A petrol bomb was allegedly used to commit the offence

FRANCISTOWN: A gang of 10 men who allegedly hurled a petrol bomb at a house occupied by lovers in Selepa, which resulted in the death of a woman while her boyfriend sustained serious injuries in its wake has strengthened its legal team.

When some of the accused were arraigned in court, they were all represented by attorney Dimpho Masunda. But when they appeared before Senior Magistrate Game Mooketsi this week, attorney Kagiso Jani represented the first accused, Kabelo Mompati, while counsel Mishingo Jeremia represented the fifth accused person, Unoziba Buka. Masunda now represents all the remaining accused persons. At issue was the urgent application by Jani for the accused persons to be granted bail.

Koziba Nthanga from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) called the investigations officer (IO) Thatayaone Sankoloba to give reasons why the accused should be denied bail. Nthanga had initially told the court that the prosecution was indifferent to the accused being granted bail. Sankoloba told the court that some of the objects that he recovered from the scene of crime that were allegedly used by the accused to commit the offences have been taken to the forensic laboratory for analysis and as such he was still awaiting a report about the objects. He went on: “...The accused are not related and do not reside in the same compound.

At this juncture, it will be difficult for me to assemble all the accused persons at the same time whenever there is a need to question them further concerning the allegations they are facing. Since I joined the police 17 years ago, I have never handled a case in which a petrol bomb was allegedly used to commit an offence. But at this juncture, it will be difficult for me to explain the role of each accused persons in the alleged commission of the offences.” When further cross-examined by Jani, Sankoloba stated that one of the reasons why he was opposed to the accused being granted bail was because the deceased's family are still mourning her death.

The IO further stated that the death of the accused purportedly from the use of a petrol bomb has further shocked the nation. “Our investigations are still ongoing and as such we are opposed to the accused to be granted bail.

The court has the discretion to grant or deny the accused bail. Should the court grant the accused bail, I propose that they shall each pay cash bail of P3,000 looking at the seriousness of the offences they are facing,” said Sankoloba. However, Jani submitted that there was nothing that could not be cured by grating all the accused persons conditional bail.

He added that the the P3,000 that the IO was proposing as a bail condition was too steep for his client since he has been incarcerated for 64 days without generating any income. Attorney Masunda said he aligned himself with the submissions made by Jani.

Masunda added that he was proposing that all the accused persons shall at least pay P1,000 as bail money. Just like the other attorneys, counsel Jeremia said the prosecution has not given any tangible evidence why his client and all the accused persons shall not be granted bail. Jeremia also said the P3,000 that the prosecution has proposed as bail money was too steep for the accused persons.

He instead proposed that they should each bind themselves with the P3,000 and bring two sureties who shall each bind themselves in the same amount among the other bail conditions that could be prescribed by the court. In response to what the defence attorneys had said, Nthanga said although the defence attorneys are right to say bail is a constitutional right, it is also not absolute and can be denied when there are concrete reasons for doing so after carrying out a balancing exercise and taking into consideration the rights of all parties affected by the matters. “The court has the discretion to carry out a balancing exercise to determine whether the accused shall be granted bail or not...” said Nthanga.

The accused were further remanded in custody and will appear in court on October 27 to hear judgment concerning their bail application. The accused are: Mompati, Kabelo Mantswe (also known as Magomora in social circles), Letlhabile Ditiragalo, Obakeng Sello, Buka, Charles Leonard, Obusitse Charlie, Malebeswa Jubani, Baitse Makandla and two others who are still on the run.

In the first count, the accused are charged with the murder of Maggie Abrahams. Since their initial appearance in court before Lebakeng, the accused have 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 the second count, all the men mentioned earlier in the murder offence are charged with causing Tshepo Bhebhe grievous bodily harm on August 16, 2021 at Selepa.

On the third count, the men are facing a charge of criminal recklessness and negligence.

The state alleges that the threw 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 set fire to a house used by Abrahams.

Editor's Comment
Isn’t There A Better Way?

Issues of land have always been complicated, and have presented headaches for land overseers. Hence, there have to be ways the Land Boards can address issues of land disputes that will not leave citizens homeless, stranded, humiliated or stripped of their dignity.Yes, it seems talks between the Land Board and Kootsenye Babo, the rightful owner of the land did occur. She admits that she did get compensation at some point in time. These are tough...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up