Defence Justice and Security Minister, Shaw Kgathi says about 242 murder suspects across the country have been granted bail by the courts of law.
When responding to a question by Member of Parliament for Nkange, Edwin Batshu, Kgathi said 69 of the suspects were released by the courts in Gaborone while 133 and 40 were granted by the courts in Francistown and Gaborone respectively.
Batshu had also wanted to know if the Minister was aware of a notorious repeat offender, Million Habana, who is facing multiple murder charges that he allegedly committed while on bail.
Habana was arraigned before court for the murder of Margaret Mathowa (42) in Nkange in January 2017 and he was granted bail when he was able to apply here on March 14th , 2017 by a Masunga Magistrates court.
While on bail, Habana is alleged to have murdered two other people in Maitengwe on the 16th May this year and he has since been remanded in custody.
Minister Kgathi who admitted that he was aware of Habana’s murder cases pointed to Section 10 (2) of the constitution as the legal statute that accords offenders bail.
Under the said section, Kgathi told parliament, every person charged with an offence is presumed innocent until proven guilty or has pleaded guilty. “This means that in terms of the constitution of Botswana all offences are bailable,” he said.
The Minister however explained that Section 104 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Chapter 08:02 prohibits the granting of bail by a magistrate on a person committed to the High court for trial in respect of the offence of treason or murder.
“Under those circumstances where a person has now been committed to the High Court for trial, it is the High Court which determines whether or not to grant such an accused person bail,” he said.
Kgathi further explained in parliament that the Magistrate is not prohibited from granting bail to an accused person on arraignment or remand. “This means that, prior to the accused person’s committal to the High Court for trial he or she may be granted bail by the magistrate”.
When granting bail to Habana, Kgathi said the Magistrate was acting within the confines of the law. “I can confirm that in terms of Section 104 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CAP 08:02), the offence of murder is exempt from offences for which perpetrators could be granted bail. That notwithstanding, Section 114 of the Criminal procedure and Evidence Act (CAP 08:02) empowers the court to grant bail to any accused person charged with an offence, whether or not the offence is one of the offences specifically under Section 104 of the CP&E Act,” Kgathi said and concluded that the courts have the discretion to grant bail to accused persons including murder suspects.