The couple found guilty in the marriage-wrecking scam
The salty tears of a broken heart as a complainant wept freely during trial are now falling from the face of married woman, Botho Matela.
Although they pleaded their innocence, the 47-year-old and her toy-boy lover, Lebang Dozig Maikano, 33, have both been found guilty of obtaining by false pretences and uttering a false document.
In a drawn-out case that dates back to 2016, the conniving couple was found to have swindled 39-year-old Ogomoditse Bella Sehularo out of over P60, 000 in cash and property, including a laptop and four leather jackets.
In their bid to pump Sehularo for Pula, the lovers convinced the unsuspecting woman that they were married.
Because she was sleeping with Maikano, Sehularo was terrified she would be exposed for marriage wrecking and so willingly handed over the money to Matela to buy her silence.
As part of their scheme, the scammers arranged for Matela – who in actual fact was married to a different man – to twice catch Sehularo and Maikano in bed together.
During one of the set-ups, Matela took naked pictures of Sehularo, claiming to have been offered P80, 000 from The Voice for both the pics and the story (NB THE VOICE DOES NOT, NEVER HAS AND NEVER WILL PAY FOR STORIES).
With her pockets now empty, Sehularo was forced to seek help from her mother to pay off the schemers.
When they continued hounding her for more cash, with nowhere else to turn, and having endured three months of hell, Sehularo contacted the police.
It was then, on 6 September 2016, that Maikano and Matela’s plot came tumbling down.
Called in for questioning at Molepolole Police Station, the couple submitted a fake marriage certificate to Detective Constable Olerile, pretending it was a genuine document when they knew it was not.
The certificate claimed the marriage was solemnized on Saturday 27 September 2014 – a rookie error from the scammers as marriages cannot be sanctified on a Saturday.
Additionally, the person named as the marriage officer was found to have passed away in 2008 – six years earlier!
Attempting to get his clients off the hook, the accused’s lawyer, Sesupo Masaka reasoned with the court that the money was not gained by false pretenses but was merely a gift between lovers.
It was an argument that failed to impress presiding Magistrate, Lindiwe Makgoro.
“Assuming the money was given happily by Sehularo to her boyfriend, would she have put herself under the pressure of even going to her mother asking for money. My answer is no! She succumbed to the pressure mounted against her by the second accused (Malela) for the fact that she did not want to appear in The Voice Newspaper and appear to the world as a marriage wrecker,” reasoned Makgoro, who ruled the prosecution had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Magistrate further noted that whilst the accused claimed they did not know where the police got the marriage certificate, she found such a claim ‘improbable’.
“Had the accused persons not told the police that they are a married couple and have a marriage certificate to that effect, the police could not have foreseen that such a certificate exists.”
Summing up the complex trial, Magistrate Makgoro highlighted the irony in the case.
“The facts of this case cannot be ignored. It was a heartless act by the second accused to actually hold the complainant responsible for wrecking her marriage whilst in actuality she is the one wrecking her own marriage by engaging in an extramarital affair with the first accused!”
It could have been worse for the lovers, as Prosecutor Sub Inspector Gosiame Tshosa had pleaded with the court to keep the duo locked up before next month’s sentencing.
However, Magistrate Makgoro spared both Maikano and Malelo the slammer, for now, ruling they would await mitigation and sentencing from their homes.
Despite the Magistrate’s kindness, Malelo could not hold back the tears as she left the courtroom, clutching Maikano’s hand as if her life depended on it.
They will return to court on 25 February where they could potentially be handed a ten-year prison sentence (seven for obtaining by false pretenses and three for uttering a false document). Sehularo is also expected to seek compensation from the pair.