FRANCISTOWN: A Zimbabwean man appeared in court yesterday to answer for a single count of allegedly uttering a false document.
The state alleges that Jeff Chigaundu, 48, presented a false First National Bank (FNB) cheque to Jan Japan Company, in order to obtain two Toyota Hiace mini buses and an E320 Mercedes Benz, all worth P266 000, in Francistown on February 7, 2015.
Chigaundu admitted to the offence but pleaded with the court to grant him bail because he has business interests in the country that would bind him to attend trial.
“I have called my business partner to act as my surety. I promise to abide by all the conditions that the court will set. I also have children here who I cannot leave. I promise to come to court until the matter is finalised,” he said. However, Assistant Superintendent Gaamangwe Kebinakgabo objected to the accused being granted bail. He said that the prosecution went to Ramokgwebana border post to enquire from immigration authorities where Chigaundu had entered Botswana, but the system did not reflect when he came here. Kebinakgabo argued that Chigaundu was in the country illegally and should be denied bail, as he was a flight risk.
The accused’s surety, Boitumelo Moremi, surprisingly refuted that she was Chigaunda’s business partner. She said that she shares a nursery school business with Chigaundu’s wife and not him. She however, said that she was confident that Chigaundu would attend trial when required since ‘he is a trustworthy person’.
“I trust that he would come to court for continuation of trial because he stayed with my uncle in Gaborone and was an obedient and trusted person. I do not have a problem of paying P2000 in order for the accused to obtain bail,” she said.
Moremi’s statement that she does not have a problem of paying P2000 for the accused to be granted bail did not go down well with Chief Magistrate Gaedupe Makgatho. “The accused is alleged to have obtained vehicles worth P266 000 which is a very substantial amount fraudulently. Who said that I would order that you bind yourself with P2000 for the accused to get bail? Your application for bail is refused because your surety is not even sure if she wants to put her head on the block and state whether you will abscond from trial or not,” she said.
The matter would be tried from June 19-22, 2015. The state said that the cars were impounded at Bisole from some locals who were instructed to take them Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, Principal Magistrate Dumisani Basupi sentenced a Zimbabwean national, Tapiwa Mpofu, to two years in jail for obtaining Botswana’s national identity card, Omang, by false pretences.
The sentence was wholly suspended for two years on condition that she does not commit any offence within that period.
Mpofu was additionally fined P300 payable within seven days, or spend six months in jail in default of payment. She had previously pleaded guilty to the offence and told the court that she came to Botswana in 1979, at the age of 11 and did not know anyone in Zimbabwe. In her mitigation, Mpofu stated that she had children here and would rather be fined than be sent back to Zimbabwe. In his judgment, magistrate Basupi said that it was evident that Mpofu had entered Botswana illegally.
“There are valid reasons why people cannot be citizens of two countries at the same time. Certain processes and procedures need to be followed for one to be a citizen of a particular country. Your plea to be left to continue living in Botswana as illegal immigrant cannot be countenanced because doing so would be setting a bad precedent,” he said.