Stimela and company plead "not guilty"

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The high profile murder trial of former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commando, now South African citizen, Thabo Stimela, and two others - Victor Sebina and Aubrey Nkuna - commenced yesterday with the three pleading not guilty.

Dressed in black suits and seemingly expensive shoes, the three calmly responded "not guilty" to the charges read out to them. It is alleged that the three murdered Lesley Manga Ntshwane on May 21, 2011 in Mochudi.However, the proceedings were cut short when the defence team sought adjournment to discuss with the prosecution what evidence they intended admitting to save time for the court.  Led by advocate Sidney Pilane, the defence team comprising Unoda Mack, Mmusi Kgafela and Moses Kadye stated that they had identified a number of witnesses whose evidence they would admit formally, as well as 12 exhibits.

Out of the five days set aside for the trial, they requested to be given more hours yesterday to be able to examine both the evidence and the exhibits for formal admission. The state intends to call 22 witnesses.Meanwhile, presiding Justice Key Dingake expressed concern at failure by the Attorney General to show up in court to oppose or agree to an application made by the defence regarding the availing of medical records on the deceased.  "I have noted with concern the absence of the Attorney General. I take with strong exception that the AG isn't here, they are the last people to be advised on court proceedings," Dingake said. He instructed the Assistant Director of Public prosecutions (DPP) Matlhogonolo Phuthego to pass the message to the AG. Assisting Phuthego are Ambrose Mubika and Mmapatsi Boitumelo.

Editor's Comment
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