Dead end for BDF arson case

Cathrine Moemedi
IN HOT SOUP: Thabang Kolagano

Approximately two and half years ago, a Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldier died in what was suspected to be arson when twenty-five houses were gutted down by fire at the army barracks in Maun.

Fast forward to April 2024, the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) is having a hard time in getting evidence and pinning the suspected arsonist to the crime and are thinking of possibly withdrawing the matter from court.

Suspected of the arson is 29- year old Lance corporal Thabang Kolagano who was accused of starting the fire by torching a colleagues house in revenge following a fight outside the camp. The fire is said to have gone out of control and spread through the camp leading to the death on one soldier, Victor Watlala.

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Appearing at the Magistrates’ Court on behalf of the prosecutor this week, Dimpho Mothibakgomo revealed that the prosecution has sent minutes to the Director of Public Prosecution seeking permission not to proceed with the case.

“Minutes have been sent to the director seeking nolle prosequi. We therefore need more time for status update,” said Mothibakgomo.

Nolle prosequi is a Latin phrase which directly translates to “ not wish to prosecute”, It is a legal notice that the prosecutor or the plaintiff has decided to abandon the prosecution or lawsuit.

A quick background to the case is that in September 2021, the accused person; Kolagano, fell out with a colleague while drinking at a local bar in the tourist town. A fight ensued, with the other men reportedly fleeing the scene. Kolagano is believed to have followed his fellow soldier back to the camp, where he allegedly started the fire.

Out on P2,500 bail since October 2021, Kolagano is likely to walk out a freeman should the Director of Public Prosecution consent to the nolle prosequi.

He is set to appear in court again on July, 29, 2024 for status update.

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