Lobatse High Court Judge Abednico Tafa has this week found the murder accused Thabo Masilo finally guilty of murder after a long drawn trial. When reading down the judgement in a room 5 packed hall in court, Tafa emphasised that “Masilo is found guilty of murder and charged accordingly.”
He also stated that the accused murderer is cleared off in the cases of robbery: “he is not found guilty of robbery and therefore discharged.” Justice Tafa set the 7th of February next year as the next stage for extenuating factors and resubmission while the convicted Masilo awaits sentencing. The judge observed that Masilo is convicted of murder because death was proved beyond reasonable doubt and that in the process wound was afflicted by the accused person who stabbed the victim 3 times at different body parts.
He said in his ruling that the stabbing led to her severe bleeding that eventually steered to Tshepang Motlhabane’s death later on the day. Masilo, who was 20 years at the time of the incident, was then charged of brutally killing the form 5 student schooling at St. Joseph‘s College Tshepang Motlhabane. The cold blooded murder took place in Phase 4 five years ago (2012) in Gaborone where the then 19 year old girl was staying with her parents who were not home at the time of the fateful incident.
The now convicted Masilo was indicted with two counts; the first one being that of murder and the second one robbery as per the charge sheet. Both charges were said to have taken place on 16th November 2018 still in Gaborone. In terms of robbery he was accused of mugging the same victim he murdered by using violence to acquire a Nokia cell phone valued at BWP900 as well as a Samsung cellphone costing BWP1500, both of which belonged to Tshepang although the charges have now been dismissed.
However recently, in one of the court appearances, Masilo who said Tshepang Motlhabane was his girlfriend, admitted to murdering her but was quick to stress that it was for self-defence as the victim grabbed him with his private parts when demanding for his belongings which he said was a BWP100 and a cellphone she gave her prior but refused and killed her in a heated moment.
On his version of events, Masilo narrated to court that on the fateful day the deceased had invited him over to her house while adding that it was a normal day between the two ‘lovers’ and that things turned nauseating when he enquired about the money that he (Masilo) had lent Motlhabane as well as the cellphone she had borrowed prior.
Masilo told court that when lending the deceased money earlier he had indicated to her that it was his transport money and that he would need it back at some point. According to Masilo, the argument became intense when the two were inside the kitchen. During the quarrel, Masilo says, he snatched Motlhabane’s cell phones and that she retaliated by grabbing his private parts.
“Acting in pain Masilo says he then hastily grabbed one of the knives lying in the kitchen and stabbed her, all in the effort to get her away from him. The wounded Motlhabane, according to Masilo, then ran to the living room where she was able to press the security panic button before she went to the nearest room where she locked herself up and waited for help.” Meanwhile, Masilo is currently serving 10 years behind bars for raping and robbing another woman in Phase 4 after he was also convicted by the Village Chief Magistrate Lenah Oahile-Mokibe earlier this year.
Masilo faces death penalty or life time sentence imprisonment in terms of the Penal code. The death sentence is usually issued upon murder under aggravated circumstances and is carried out by hanging until one dies. In rare circumstances where the matter is regarded as manslaughter instead of murder, the convicted murder accused get sentence to approximately 20 years behind bars. In Botswana capital punishment is a legal penalty and it is one of a few democracies in the world which continue to enforce it.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.