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TORCHED: Burned huts of Mogonono residents

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There was fire…. but no smoke!

Accused arsonist in the clear

A Zimbabwean businessman suspected of torching three traditional huts at Mogonono Lands in revenge for residents damaging his truck has been told he has no case to answer.

37-year-old Tennyson Ngwenya is now a free man after he was acquitted and discharged of arson by Molepolole Magistrates Court last week.

His legal team, led by Michael Iyumeleng, successfully argued the state were unable to prove it was Ngwenya who set fire to the huts and indeed even failed to provide evidence that arson had been committed.

In a matter that dates back to two fiery nights in March 2019, Ngwenya was accused of burning down 47-year-old Kelemogile Batsietsi’s humble home. Two nights later, on 29 March, he was said to have torched two huts belonging to Goitsemodimo Motsewabeng, 79.

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Nothing was salvaged from the inferno, with the flames causing around P39, 000 worth of destruction in total.

At the time it was suspected Ngwenya started the fires in retribution after his truck was reduced to a crumpled mess by angry Mogonono residents, who accused the Zim native of illegally mining sand from the nearby river.

Although the prosecution argued this was clear motive and even told court Ngwenya had confessed to committing the crime, the case against him did not stick.

Presiding over the matter, Magistrate Kefilwe Resheng noted that one of the complainants, Motsewabeng, had given conflicting statements.

“I have to point out that Motsewabeng submitted two contradictory statements dated May 2nd, 2019 and October 11th, 2019. In the latter statement he stated that he was present when his houses were set ablaze whilst the former one, for May 2nd, he testified that he received a call to the effect that his two huts were on fire while he was at Mmankgodi with his wife and had to travel to find them ablaze. I am therefore lost as which one to believe between the two,” she highlighted.

It was also noted that the cops did not conduct an identity parade and merely brandished the suspect before the victims for identification.

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“The Investigating Officer (IO) testified that the accused told him with other police officers that he was the one who set fire to the houses because they had damaged his trucks. A careful look at the statement showed that all the elements of arson have been ticked, the intentional unlawful burning of someone’s property,” continued Magistrate Resheng, explaining the IO was supposed to have taken the accused before a judicial officer to record his statement in writing.

The case was then duly dismissed, much to the dismay of both Batsietsi and Motsewabeng.

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