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5th suspect in Choppies robbery arrested

REMANDED: Ronald Dipholo

POLICE STILL SEARCHING FOR A 6th INDIVIDUAL

Five of the six men thought to be behind the armed robbery of Meriting Choppies earlier this month are now in police custody.

The fifth suspect, 49-year-old Ronald Dipholo was arrested this Wednesday at his home village of Bobonong.

He was arraigned before Francistown Magistrates Court on Friday morning, three days after his co-accused: Mogomotsi Thupane, 36, Thato Moatshe, 31, Ronnie Sanana, 40, and Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) agent, Derick Masukula, 41, appeared before the same court.

The five have been charged with Robbery and Malicious Damage of Property and are said to have made away with P181, 000 during the 1 August raid.

As for the second count, the men are accused of forcing entry into the store, causing P4, 500 worth of damage to Choppies front doors in the process.

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It is alleged they were armed with a gun, knife and a taser during the robbery, which took place at around 8:30 in the evening.

During Dipholo’s brief court appearance, the Investigating Officer (IO), Detective Constable Motshaba revealed that upon interrogation, the other four suspects claimed he was the one in possession of the fire arm used in the robbery.

Requesting Dipholo be remanded in custody, the IO said, “It is alleged a gun was used during the robbery and we are yet to recover it. The sixth suspect is still on the run and our fear is that if Dipholo is granted bail, he is likely to jeopardize our investigations. We also want him to undergo Covid-19 testing because he was in contact with the other accused who came from Gaborone and by then it was under lockdown.”

When given the chance to speak, Dipholo said his only request is that the police speed up their investigations.

“It is not comfortable at the holding cell. It was overcrowded and mixed with border jumpers; even the police are at risk!” said the suspect.

Presiding over proceedings, Chief Magistrate, Faith Dlamini Ngandu took these concerns into account, ordering the prosecution to inform the relevant authority about the crowded holding cells.

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She ruled that the accused be tested for Covid-19 and quarantined for 14 days.

Dipholo was remanded in custody and is due back in court with his co-accused on 3 September for mention.

Meanwhile, the last suspect remains at large – as does P173, 000 of the stolen loot, with police so far only managing to recover P8, 000.

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