Freedom heartbreak

Bame Piet

A wrong conviction for an offence he did not commit has broken a fisherman’s heart and family after he found his fiance nursing another man’s child.

When the Court of Appeal freed Morerwa Mbazera, a 54-year old fisherman from Kauxwi village last Friday, he had already served four years and four months in prison for possession of ivory, an offence he did not commit.

He had consistently denied the charges from the day he was arrested on the 22nd September 2016 until his last day in prison on April 12th 2023.

When he walked out of prison, he had a lot of things in his mind, but top of them was his family – his four orphaned children whose mother died in 2012, and his fiance.

However, upon arrival at home on April 16th he found that everything was gone.

“I found my fiance nursing another man’s baby and I decided to collect my belongings and move on. My eldest child has failed Form 3 and is living in Maun, apparently employed by some company, after she attained 18 years old this year,” he said.

- Advertisement -

“The other children have also turned into sort of wild animals and the few cattle that I had have also disappeared. Some of them were sold to raise funds for my freedom, but right now there is nothing. There is absolutely nothing for me right now, and I have been diagnosed with Hypertension,” he told The Voice in a telephone interview this week.

Mbazera was arrested on the morning of 22 September 2016 on suspicion of possession of ivory which was found at the house of Moronga Dikore who was the main suspect. The six tusks were valued at P60,715.10 and weighing 45.3kg.

During the arrest, Dikore said Mbazera and third accused- Kenamile Nembwa, were the owners of the elephant tusks and that they had gone to look for buyers.

Before the Shakawe Magistrates’ Court there was a total of five accused persons including Dikore, Nembwa, and Mbazera. The fourth and fifth were discharged and acquitted.

He said despite his plea for innocence, the three were convicted and slapped with a P20,000.00 fine or a six-year imprisonment in December 2018.

The first and 2nd convicts managed to pay the fine and walked home, whilst he could not afford to raise the money and was determined to prove his innocence. He then appealed to the Francistown High Court, which upheld the conviction and sentence.

- Advertisement -

He later appealed to the Court of Appeal in February 2022 and more than a year later, after completing his sentence, he was cleared of the offence.

The apex court found that the magistrate had misdirected himself to admit the evidence of the first accused person to convict Mbazera.

“This finding was most inappropriate because accused 1’s statement against his co-accused was inadmissible if it had been a statement made by co-accused in the course of or pursuant to a joint criminal enterprise. In our judgment, there was no conspiracy proved between the Appellant and the rest of the people who were charged with him”

“To conclude, there was no evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the Appellant was in possession of the elephant tusks. With no evidence linking the Appellant with the elephant tusks, this conviction cannot be allowed to stand,” the three appeal judges ruled.

Share This Article
Leave a comment