Francistown Police have made 11 arrests in connection with over half-a-million Pula in fake P200 notes found at a dwelling in Gerald Estates last Friday.
The suspected fraudsters, all Batswana men aged between 19 and 36, were rounded up across the second city in a three-day operation over the Easter holidays.
Charged with counterfeiting currency, there was little space to breathe in the cramped dock as, one by one, all 11 suspects shuffled into Francistown Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning.
They are accused of illegally reproducing a legal, Bank of Botswana-issued P200 bank note (serial number AR1672699) 2, 882 times – worth P576, 400 in total.
Requesting the accused be remanded in custody, the Investigating Officer (IO), Andrew Moeti noted this was a case of national interest.
The Detective Sergeant revealed the cops are unsure how much of the fake cash was already circulating on the streets, but feared it could be a high value.
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“We are dealing with people who managed to make their own currency my worship. They made over 500, 000 Pula, and we are still in search of more of this money. The incident occurred during the holidays so we have not yet managed to liaise with the affected stakeholders, like BOB and the Directorate of Public Prosecution and others who may arise during the investigations,” said Moeti, adding they expect to make more arrests in connection with the matter.
The top cop further told court the police were yet to uncover the equipment used to manufacture the counterfeit bills.
“I therefore plead that we be given ample time to investigate while the accused persons are in custody. We are still to record more statements which needs time,” ended the IO, noting that if released, there was a good chance the suspects would interfere with investigations.
He got his wish and all 11 well-dressed suspects were remanded behind bars, where they will remain until 25 April when they return to court. They were crammed into the back of a single police van and whisked off to prison.
The accused money-makers are: Opelo Joko, Kopo Aron, Tapenda Chitutu, Olerato Mosweu, Benedict Zikhale, Nchidzi Machola, Mpaphi Smarts, Revay Masike, Mompoloki Gobutsemang, Goitseone Galani and Prince Rabanyana.