When police were called to Piijinaa cattlepost on the outskirts of Matsitama village on Wednesday afternoon, they arrived to find a badly injured young man tied to a tree.
His tattered clothes wet with blood and his right eye swollen shut, the youth, 20-year-old Onkgopotse Chavila Tsabue was beaten to a pulp by furious residents.
Tsabue is accused of murdering his sister’s three-year-old son, Gofiwa Omaatla, allegedly hacking the toddler in the head with an axe after a row over ‘tsabana’ porridge.
Looking battered and bruised, the youthful suspect was arraigned before Francistown Magistrate Court on Thursday morning.
Tsabue was remanded in custody after the Investigating Officer (IO), Lawrence Nthoiwa noted villagers were likely to finish him off should he be set free.
“The accused and the victim’s mother are siblings and stay together in the same yard. The parents and relatives are still dangerously angry so if released on bail his life will be in danger,” warned the Assistant Superintendent.
According to Nthoiwa, when asked what happened, the accused told the police his mother had sent him to collect his nephew’s medical card.
However, a fight ensued when the child’s parents refused to give him the card.
“He claimed he wanted to go and collect tsabana from the clinic but the victim’s mother refused saying she will go to the clinic herself. The accused said he then assaulted his sister in the presence of her boyfriend, who is also the victim’s father.
“When the victim’s father tried to intervene, a fight arose between the two men. The accused was overpowered and ran home, where the child was with his grandmother. He then proceeded to the fireplace where he took an axe,” Nthoiwa told court, pausing dramatically before the next part of his grisly narrative.
“The suspect then pulled the child from the other kids and chopped him with the axe on the head once as well as hitting him with the back of the axe twice on the ribs,” finished the IO.
When asked if he had anything to say, Tsabue tentatively shook his puffy head.
He will next appear in court for mention on 16 November.