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Btv reporter escapes jail

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BTV reporter escapes jail
MISSES COURT: Onkutlwile Thamage

P350 maintenance fee nearly lands thamage in prison

Popular Botswana Television (Btv) crime reporter, Onkutlwile Thamage earlier this week escaped time in prison by a whisker for failure to comply with court order to pay maintenance fees for his child.

The 28-year-old resident of Block 7 location in the country’s capital, Gaborone had his gods to thank on Monday this week after the prosecution reversed its last Friday application for a warrant of arrest against him.

Thamage, who became more popular for reporting extensively on the police’s raids in drug dealers after he initially caught the public attention following an alleged suicide attempt in April 2014, had failed to appear in the Francistown magistrates’ court for failure to comply.

He was facing four counts of failure to comply. Sometime early last year, the mother of his four-year-old child had dragged him before the courts of law accusing him of defaulting on paying maintenance fees.

According to court papers, Thamage defaulted in the months of February, March, April and May 2016. This is despite the fact that he had been ordered by the Gaborone magistrates’ court to pay a monthly maintenance fee of P350 per month towards the upkeep of his child.

The child’s mother, who is now based in Francistown and cannot be identified on legal reasons, approached the Francistown magistrates’ court to compel Thamage to contribute towards the child’s upkeep.

All in all, Thamage owed P1 400 hence the criminal offense. Last Friday, Sub-Inspector Mbatshi Mafa, prosecuting the matter, had applied for a warrant of arrest against the luminary crime journalist for failing to appear in court.

Mafa told the court that Thamage knew about the court date on which he was expected to be arraigned. However, without varied reasons extended to the prosecution team, Thamage was nowhere to be found in court.

“We humbly plead with the court that a warrant of arrest be issued against the accused person,” the prosecutor subsequently applied. Probably, upon learning about the warrant of arrest against him, Thamage rushed to pay the arrears on the same day the warrant was issued.

The prosecution was left with no option but to withdraw the warrant of arrest. On Monday, Mafa approached Francistown magistrate Lebogang Kebeetsweng and pleaded with her to withdraw the warrant since Thamage had cleared all the arrears.