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“I am innocent, I did not kill him!”



*Zim man acquitted of murder after six years in jail

“I am sorry for the state for incriminating me for nothing. I am an innocent man. I did not kill that man. I was not even there when it happened!” exclaimed 33-year-old Thabani Mapunganyika as police officers ushered him into the back of their van parked outside Francistown High Court on Tuesday morning.

The Zimbabwean is being driven back to prison, his home for the last six years. It is his home no longer.

Minutes early, the father-of-three was acquitted of John Molefi Keletse’s murder, a former Biology teacher at Masunga Senior Secondary School who was shot dead at The Other Place Bar in Matsiloje on 20 December 2013.

“I am happy that I have been acquitted and discharged of the three robberies and a murder case. I am finally a free man!” beamed Mapunganyika, who intends to return to his family in Zimbabwe as soon as possible.

“I am going back to Bulawayo. I will never come back to Botswana; I would rather go to South Africa. I am a father to the three children who will be happy to see me,” continued the man who spent over half a decade locked up for a crime the state could not prove he committed.

Mapunganyika’s relief is tinged with sadness however, as he reveals he was only recently told of his father’s passing.

“My father is said to have died last year but I only heard last week,” he told The Voice.

Mapunganyika was one of four men suspected to have raided The Other Place Bar in an armed robbery over six years ago.

The victim, Keletse, had been drinking at the bar and was shot dead during the robbery.

The robbers are said to have ordered everyone to lie down before firing warning shots into the air. They then made away with cash and cellphones.

The suspects were arrested soon after but Mapunganyika’s co-accused escaped from Gerald Center of Illegal Immigrants back in January 2017.

The three men remain at large as does the murder weapon which was never retrieved.

During his trial, the state’s case against Mapunganyika relied heavily on eye-witnesses who picked out the Zimbabwean in an Identification Parade.

However, it was successfully argued on behalf of the accused that the manner in which the ID parade was conducted was flawed as the state failed to adhere to the safeguards normally employed in cases of such nature.

Presiding over the case, Justice Bengbame Sechele ruled, “The accused complicity in the commission of the crime has not been well established so he is acquitted and discharged of one count of murder and three counts of robbery.”

It was a judgment that had Mapunganyika smiling for perhaps the first time in six years.

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DPP moves closer to recovering P60 million



The Directorate of Public Prosecutions moved another step closer to recovering the government’s P60 million from Basis Points Capital LTD when it closed its final submissions on Tuesday.

The DPP has made an application for Civil Forfeiture Order against property belonging to persons implicated in criminal proceedings in the P250 million National Petroleum Fund scam that is before the courts.

Making his final submissions, Ernest Mosate responded to arguments raised by the lawyers for the defendants saying that they were wrong to think that the DPP has no right to raise the issue of a fraudulent contract between DIS and Basis Points Capital LTD in their Replying Affidavit.

He said they had no intention to make the issue part of their application for the order, but the respondents raised it in their answering affidavits.

“Our Replying Affidavit brought evidence to demonstrate that the contract does not exist, it is a fraudulent document and that is why it cannot be the basis for the eating of 60 million Pula and for the manner in which it was eaten,” Mosate argued.

Basis Points Capital is linked to Bakang Seretse who is implicated in the 250 million NPF case that is still pending before the courts of law.

Mosate said that the fraudulent contract came into being between March and July 2016 and a total of P60 million was transferred to Basis Points Capital bank accounts at Stanbic Bank and Bank Gaborone between July and December of the same year.

He added that fraudulent signatures, fraudulent correspondence, and ghost employees of DIS were used in the scam hence the urgent need to recover the funds.

This, he said, was confirmed by DIS and ministry officials who have disowned the signatures that appear in agreement documents.

Earlier, the defendants called for government officials to take to the witness stand and be subjected to cross examination in respect to the contents of their affidavits.

Mosate said that the rules of the High Court Act and Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) prescribe how forfeiture proceedings should be conducted – “they should be conducted speedily and expeditiously”.

He said there was no need for a full trial but the judge had the discretion to call some witnesses to clarify their averments.

The DPP further said that the company did not procure oil as purported in the fraudulent contract but instead, the funds were used in acquisition of luxurious vehicles and acquisition of plots which are to be forfeited.

Some of the vehicles under the DPP’s radar are a couple of Ford Maceratti, Mercedes Benz luxury vehicles and developed plots.

Meanwhile, Justice OmphemetseMotumise has postponed the matter to end of July when he will pass judgment.

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Court dismisses application for case withdrawal



Industrial Court Judge President, Tebogo Maruping, has turned down an application for a withdrawal in a marathon case between former Wildlife Ranger, Thatayaone Lexicon Mpatane and his former employer Department of Wildlife & National Parks.

In a brief letter dated 10th March, the Registrar of the Industrial Court, Anna Mphethe writes that: “I’m directed by by the Honourable Judge President who’s seized with this matter to inform you that this has been concluded and is currently awaiting judgement and therefore your application for withdrawal will not be entertained.”

A bemused Mpatane told The Voice that he was shocked that the Judge President has rejected his intention to withdraw the matter. “In our correspondences last year, whenever I inquired about the case, I was always given the impression that the Judge President had a backlog of cases from as far back as 2017 and mine was number 50 out of about 51 cases,” he said.

Mpatane referred The Voice to a correspondence from the Court written on 20th December 2019 in response to his inquiry written on 11th November 2019.

In the letter written by Bakang Tshipinare on behalf of the Registrar, the Judge President states that the principle of first in, last out is applied when cases are adjudicated before court. “Your matter will hence be dealt with, once the preceding cases are concluded. We’ll hence keep yourself updated on the estimated time frames during the year 2020,” reads part of the letter.

In court documents seen by this publication, Mpatane wrote his case withdrawal letter on 3rd February and requested a prompt meeting with the bench clerk to inspect the file.

However according to Mpatane while the court provided him with the documents the one he needed the most was conspicuously missing. “The court order confirming that I withdrew the matter was not among the documents and when I inquired further I was told the Judge President had refused to write the order asserting that he had already heard the case and would write judgement,” he said.

The former ranger told The Voice last week that he needed the material to register the matter with the High Court to seek for additional reliefs which the Industrial Court cannot grant.

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