Suspected arsonist denied bail

Kabelo Dipholo
IN COURT: Olatetswe

An impassioned plea for bail from a Nswazi man accused of house breaking, stealing and arson, last week failed to move Masunga Magistrate, Amos Tumelo, who ruled that the young man be further remanded in jail.

Moemedi Olatetswe, 20, appeared before a Masunga Magistrates Court on Friday facing two counts of burglary and arson.

According to the Investigating Officer, Constable Chief Mothibedi, on May 06 around 2am, Olatetswe broke into Mmoloki Moja’s house and stole goods worth P4 150.

On the same day he went back to the two-roomed house and torched it, destroying all household goods worth P98 640. The tenant of the Village Development Committee house was away on a trip when the offence was committed. Olatetswe was arrested the next day.

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Pleading with the court to remand the accused in custody, Mothibedi said if granted bail, Olatetswe might disregard the set conditions as he had already demonstrated that he can’t be trusted by attempting to flea from arrest.
“He locked himself inside his parents’ house and while we negotiated with him to let us in, he escaped through the back window,” said Mothibedi.

The Investigating Officer also expressed concern that before arrest the suspect went to the victims’ house twice on the same night.

“At this point we have no idea what his motive for burning the house was, and we don’t want to put the life of the victim in danger by releasing him back into the community,” said the investigating officer.

Mothibedi further highlighted that both burglary and arson were serious offences with burglary attracting a maximum of 14 -years in jail and life imprisonment for arson.

In response, a rather calm Olatetswe said he was the sole caretaker of his four-year-old daughter whose mother died in a road accident in 2018.

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“I have no other place to stay but Nswazi,” he said and added: “I did escape through the window but I only ran to my grandmother’s place where you later found and arrested me,” Olatetswe said as he pleaded for his release.

“The first time I fled, I ran to my mother’s house. I’ve nowhere else to run,” he said. The suspect further claimed that he only fled out of fear and never meant to burn the house down.

“I was smoking a cigarette and I suspect I did not put out the stub, which caused the fire,” he said.

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However his pleas fell on deaf ears as Magistrate Tumelo denied him bail and ordered that he be remanded until the lifting of the State of Public Emergency.

The Magistrate further ordered that Olatetswe be tested for Covid-19 before being sent back to prison.

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