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IN SHACKLES: Accused illegal miners leaving court

Suspected Chinese illegal gold miners get bail

The families of the four Chinese men busted last week for suspected illegal mining of gold in Kalakamati and Sechele villages could not hide their excitement when Masunga Magistrate Court granted them bail on Monday.

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The quartet of Qingxion Zhou, 45, Haiyan Xiong, 49, Goushen Xiong, 42, Kaijin Zhou, 42, had applied for bail following their incarceration last Monday. They were both charged with unlawful possession of raw precious metals, and a second count of prospecting minerals without a mining licence.

The four, together with a 20-year-old Vezera Willy from Rakops were busted in broad daylight by security agents near Sechele village, and found in possession of the in demand suspicious metals.

Giving evidence before court last Wednesday, Botswana Police Prosecutor, Sergeant Phobe Tumalano, said the four had successfully mined in Kalakamati and were in the process of prospecting in Sechele when their luck ran out.

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While the state did not oppose bail application for the first and fourth accused who both have businesses in Botswana, they prayed that the second and third accused, who have no assets in Botswana be remanded as they were a flight risk.

“They’ve nothing of value in the country that’d compel them to comply with the bail conditions. They are just tourists who can skip the country at anytime, and we will be unable to trace them,” said Tumalano.

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Accused one, Qingxion Zhou runs Javeria Garments store in Gaborone, while accused four Kaijin Zhou is a shop assistant and also a shareholder in the same business.

However, after eight long days in a prison cell, Senior Magistrate Segametsi Basinyi granted all the accused bail. The Magistrate questioned what she termed preferential treatment in the manner the police dealt with the fifth accused. She said Willy was treated as if he was not arrested along with the four Asian men.

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“He seems to be absolved from the case,” she said

“It is not enough to deny someone bail simply because they’re not residents. It is possible for some people to honour court dates while not living in this country,” said Basinyi.

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The Magistrate further said there’s no suggestion that the accused will not honour court dates if given bail, stating that Kaijin has been in Botswana for over 10 years, while Qingxion runs a lucrative business in Gaborone.

“The defence also said even though the second and third accused don’t have residence permits, they can reside with the first and fourth accused,” Basinyi said.

She then ruled in favour of Kaijin and Qingxion, releasing them on a P6 500 bail, and also set the other two accused free on a P10 000 bail. They were also ordered to surrender their travelling documents, cellphones, and provide two sureties at P5000 each.

The quartet was also ordered to report to the nearest police station twice a week, and prohibited from traveling to or being in the vicinity of Kalakamati and Sechele villages while this matter is still before court. Lastly, the four China men were ordered to never be out of a 20km radius of Gaborone in all directions.

Their joy soon turned to misery when they realised that they had to spend one more night in a cell, as it was already too late in the evening to process any payment. The matter returns to court on November 14th when the accused will be expected to make a plea.

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