Letlhakane Police Station Commander, Michael Maphephu
LETLHAKANE: The suspect in a gruesome and fatal accident that astonished many and left three siblings dead and one hospitalised in a critical condition at Bokamoso Private Hospital, Mr Mooketsi Bathoeng appeared before Letlhakane Magistrate Queen Latoya Moanga on Wednesday facing three counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of failure to stop at the scene of an accident.
When the 26 year old Xhomo born resident of Letlhakane took to the stand, the murmuring of people in the court room which was filled to full capacity overpowered the thick emotion that hang in the air. The accident that had the village of Letlhakane talking since it occurred on the evening of Friday August 14 had generated a lot of interest among Boteti residents.
The prosecutor said that the suspect is charged with dangerous driving contrary to section 49(a) of the Road Traffic Act, and (b) with failing to stop after the accident and causing death through dangerous driving .The prosecution alleged that the accused drove his motor vehicle on the road in a manner dangerous to other persons, failed to stop after the accident and caused the death of three persons and serious injuries to one.
Bathoeng who is alleged to have been drunk and highly intoxicated on the day of the accident killed three children and injured two more, after veering off the road in Mokgobelele Ward in Letlhakane. According to witnesses, the six children who are all siblings and were walking from their grandmother’s house were hit off road.
“His car was overtaking at high speed, veered off road and approached a group of children who then scattered and run for cover only to be caught in mid-flight and were unfortunately brutally pressed hard against the fence of a nearby by homestead, two died on the spot, one on the way to the hospital, one has been discharged while one is in a very critical condition at Bokamoso Private Hospital.” Constable Serumola Aaron revealed.
He said he was constrained to prosecute this case as he is also a lead prosecutor in another case where the same suspect caused another death in Orapa in 2013 in what is suspected to have been another case of drunken driving. He says while they have now been given the go ahead to prosecute, by the DPP in Gaborone his initial case was delayed by several a factors and the complex nature of his investigations.
He said it is unfortunate to meet the same suspect in court for s similar matter as he had just been given permission from Gaborone to proceed with his case recently and was about to contact him. He said while he would not like to paint the suspect in a bad light, his investigations have revealed that he is a man known for his love of speed.
Taking the stand in open court, the suspect pleaded with the magistrate to grant him bail to consult his parents and seek for a legal advisor as well as meet with his employers. The magistrates reminded him of the seriousness of the offence, his pending case and denied him bail as the police had earlier indicated that the matter is still fresh and would require the services of accident re-constructionists and that he may interfere with investigations.
The police also pleaded with the court to remand him in custody for a while to allow the community to cool off and to protect him from possible vengeance by the victims family and community members. They also said that they were worried about the condition of the fourth child still hospitalised who is in a vegetative state, the prosecutor said that they may have to add another count should the child’s health deteriorate dismally.
In an interview with this publication, Letlhakane Police Station Commander, Michael Maphephu revealed that the suspect was apprehended through the help of community members after he sent his younger brother to take his car to a local panel beater in an attempt to conceal evidence of the accident.
He said community members who saw him at the accident scene where he is said to have stopped for a moment to look at the horrific scene before speeding off helped in identifying him. He said that the three dead students, two girls and their brother aged between seven and twelve years will be laid to rest this weekend, at their home village in Tswapong.
Speaking to the suspect in an interview outside court, he said that he did not mean to conceal the accident but thought that he had hit a dog or some other stray animal. He said he was very sorry that lives were lost as he is currently taking care of his eight months year old child.
He said he was a mechanic and also a student, seconded by his employer Eqstra Holdings which is currently carrying out open cast mining at Boteti Karowe mine. He said he was seconded to a mining institute in South Africa and stands to lose out on this academic development opportunity.
In an interview outside court Constable Serumola Aaron said that in Botswana, the possible sentence in the case of a person who causes the death of another person by dangerous driving is a fine not exceeding P30, 000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or both.
He also said leaving the scene would also carry a sentence and that the judge might also consider suspending the accused driving license. A memorial service was held for the three students at their former School Letlhakane Primary School on Wednesday evening, various churches in the village have also planned prayer services in memory of the departed siblings and their family and a candle light service this Sunday. The suspects will appear again in court on September 15th.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.