Ugandan herbalist changes plea

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FRANCISTOWN: A Ugandan traditional doctor accused of fraud changed his guilty plea to not guilty after telling the court that he is a genuine herbalist and not a fake one yesterday.

Senior Magistrate Sijabuliso Siziba recorded the new plea entered by the accused, Martin Maiso, after facts of the matter were read to him.

“I will record a plea of not guilty in order for the state to prove that the accused is (either) a genuine herbalist or not,” said Siziba.

During his initial court appearance on Tuesday, Maiso pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining P12,000 from Rachel Setlhare under the pretext of being a herbalist on February 3, 2015.

The state alleged that Maiso and his co-accused unlawfully told Setlhare at Somerset West location that they would help her to conceive while they knew that to be false.

Maiso was charged along with his countryman, Allen Mukasi, and a local, Vuma Munyamani, who were acquitted yesterday. Defence attorney, Themba Joina, told the court that the application made by the state to withdraw charges against Munyamani due to lack of evidence should not prejudice his client.

Prosecutor Alexander Phale did not object to what Joina told the court in relation to the withdrawal of charges against his client. Before Siziba recorded a plea of not guilty in respect to Maiso during facts reading, it emerged that Setlhare enlisted the services of Maiso after she saw a newspaper advert.

The advert, which was produced in court as part of evidence, described Maiso as a herbalist who can cure numerous diseases and help infertile women conceive. Setlhare contacted the alleged herbalist, Maiso on a telephone number that was provided in the advert and the two met several times.

“Setlhare ended up giving Maiso P12,000 to help her conceive.  She ended up reporting the matter to the police after she did not conceive on numerous occasions,” according to the facts.

Maiso also made an application to compensate the complainant.  The state opposed the application.

“If the state is opposed to reconciliation there is nothing I can do since it’s their case,” said Siziba when Maiso wanted the court to give its position after the state opposed his bid for reconciliation. On Tuesday, Maiso told the court that he has a car that he wanted to sell in order to compensate the accused.

The matter was adjourned to February 24.

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