Covid-19 is not an excuse!

Phatsimo Israel
NO HAIR, NO BAIL: Two of the suspects (centre and far right)

Magistrate demands urgency on Choppies Meriting robbery case

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Francistown Chief Magistrate, Faith Dlamini-Ngadu has urged the prosecution ‘to move with lightning speed’ in a case where six men are accused of robbing Choppies Meriting of close to P190, 000.

Although the robbery took place on Saturday 1 August and five of the suspects have since been arrested, to date only P8, 000 of the stolen loot has been recovered.

Mogomotsi Thupane, 36, Thato Moatshe, 31, Ronnie Sanana, 40, Ronald Dipholo, 49, and Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) agent, Derick Masukula, 41, have been charged with armed robbery and malicious damage of property.

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Their faces hidden by facemasks, it is alleged the five men forced entry into Choppies Meriting store in Francistown at around 8:30pm. They are then said to have threatened staff members with ‘something suspected to be a gun’.

Police are still hunting for a sixth individual in connection with the robbery.

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Meanwhile, in his attempt to get his clients bail, Defence lawyer Kagiso Jani pleaded with court to consider assessing the five suspects individually.

Jani noted that the fourth accused, Derick Masukula, was remanded in custody based on suspicious transaction in his bank account.

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“Now that his account has been frozen, and there’s no how he can tamper with it, I pray that he be given bail,” pleaded Jani.

The attorney further argued that one of the accused was remanded after the prosecution claimed he was wanted in connection with a murder that occurred in 2014.

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“However, up to this day, he’s yet to be questioned in connection with the said murder,” highlighted Jani.

Addressing Court, Dipholo, who was the last suspect to be apprehended a fortnight ago, pleaded that he be allowed to await the matter outside court.

“I don’t know why I was brought here. I’ve been told some people claim that I sold them guns. These people are apparently in quarantine and I’m yet to meet them to confront them on the said allegations,” Dipholo said.

For her part State Prosecutor Sesafeleng Dijeng prayed that the suspects remain behind bars while her team time complete their investigations.

She revealed they suspect some of the accused recently bought cars in Gaborone and that the vehicles previous owners are yet to be contacted.

“We still have to follow up on this matter, but due to Covid-19 regulations it had been a challenge as some people could not get permits. We’re still looking for the individual who sold the accused vehicles,” Dijeng said.

The prosecutor’s reasoning failed to convince Chief Magistrate Dlamini-Ngadu, who did not take kindly to Covid-19 being used as an excuse for the delay in the case.

She said due to the restriction brought about by the pandemic it requires that the prosecution speed up the process to wrap up the matter.

Despite this, she sided with the prosecution and further remanded the five accused to allow the police to complete their investigations.

“There are some loose ends that needs to be tied up, so it won’t be right to release the suspects,” concluded Dlamini-Ngadu.

The case continues on 17 September.

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