Amid a shortage of beef in Maun caused by a police operation to curb livestock theft, a prominent businessman in the tourist town, Gabriel Tiki Wellio, has found himself in hot soup.
The 58-year-old butchery owner was arraigned before the Magistrates’ Court with three others this week, accused of being caught in possession of nine carcasses suspected to be stolen cattle or unlawfully obtained.
The four suspects: Wellio, Keitshokile Montsho, 37; Abraham Nyakunana, 44; and Kadimo Ovuya, were reportedly nabbed on 21st October in Gxhabara ward. Police are still looking for a fifth man, Ditebogo Lithemba, in connection with the case.
During their court appearance, the state applied for Zimbabwean national, Nyakunana, to be remanded in custody, noting he was a potential flight risk.
According to the Investigating Officer (IO), Nyakunana is in Botswana illegally and in possession of an invalid passport.
The IO further revealed investigations were ongoing, with some of the suspects still at large.
Protesting for bail, Nyakunana’s attorney, Charles Tlagae, argued his client’s passport was perfectly valid but that he had overstayed his days.
“The government of Botswana has made provisions that any foreigner who overstayed in Botswana is charged a fee for each day that he has overstayed. Just because he is a foreigner does not mean that he is not entitled to the rights that are being enjoyed by Batswana,” insisted Tlagae.
The lawyer further pointed out that Nyakunana was Wellio’s employee and resides with him permanently so it would be easy for the police to track him down if need be.
His pleas proved unsuccessful, however, as the Zimbabwean was told he would be staying in prison until the next mention, set for status update on 29th November.
It meant Nyakunana had to watch on as his co-accused were all granted conditional bail, set at P2,500. The trio were also required to each provide two Batswana sureties to the same amount and warned not to get caught up in any criminal activities, especially where stock theft is an element.