Zim immigrant charged for dagga cultivation

 Nkomo in court
Nkomo in court

FRANCISTOWN: When former president Ian Khama encouraged people to have backyard gardens in order to supplement their diet or generate income, some people literally took his message to the extremes even post his presidency.

This is illustrated in the case of an illegal immigrant from Zimbabwe, Melody Nkomo (37), who landed in hot soup after the police uprooted several cannabis plants grown in her backyard garden without a licence (permit) authorising her to cultivate narcotics. The police uncovered Nkomo’s unlawful activities when they were patrolling the streets in Area 9 Monarch location after they received a tip-off from an informer on March 9, 2021.

On Friday during trial, the first prosecution witness constable Gomolemo Kinnear, who is a member of the Special Support Group (SSG) within the Botswana Police Service (BPS), told the court that after they received a tip-off from the informer, they went to Nkomo’s place and found her in the yard. “...After we arrived at the yard, Nkomo took us to the back of the yard where we found a garden where tomatoes and the plants that we suspected were dagga were being cultivated.

Nkomo admitted that she was the owner of the garden after we questioned her in the presence of an independent witness... However, she told us that she believed that all the plants in her garden were tomatoes. We later uprooted the plants that we suspected were cannabis and took them to the police station in the company of Nkomo and an independent witness who was residing within the same yard with Nkomo,” Kinnear told the court. When asked to cross-examine Kinnear, Nkomo told the Chief Magistrate Mareledi Dipate that she had no questions for the police officer because he had just told the court what transpired during that day.

After Kinnear gave his testimony, Nkomo admitted the police statement of the independent witness, Ntumediseng Mogopolo. The accused also said she had no questions to ask the BPS forensic scientist, Moment Ogotseng whose testimony was to the effect that he examined the plants that were brought before him and made a conclusion after analysing the plants that they were cannabis (dagga). Just like Kinnear, Nkomo told the court that she had no questions to ask Ogotseng when she was given an opportunity to cross-examine him. The same scenario also happened after the Investigating Officer (IO), constable Bright Lithembo gave his oral testimony. After the State closed its case, Magistrate Dipate told Nkomo, who cried after the conclusion of her trial, that she had a prima facie case to answer.

The defence case then ended before it could start after Nkomo informed the court that she had no defence to the allegations that she was charged with. Judgement in the matter will be delivered on February 11, 2022. In June last year, Nkomo was fined P1,500 for having entered Botswana illegally or six months in jail in default of payment. However, Nkomo escaped imprisonment because she had already spent more than six months in prison.

Editor's Comment
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