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Retiring chief justice praises police

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Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo has applauded the Botswana Police Service (BPS) for doing ‘a sterling job’ in bringing down the level of crime, especially drugs which has of late infiltrated the society at an alarming rate.

Speaking at the 2018 Legal Year Opening on February 6, Mr Dibotelo said it was comforting that the police had upped the ante by pouncing unannounced on crime scenes following surveillance and intelligence gathering and parading suspects in the glare of national television.

He said using such strategy, police have arrested many suspects and recovered money, household property and drugs courtesy of sniffer dog “Boots”.

He regretted that a new phenomenon on drug abuse particularly motokwane (marijuana), especially amongst the youth, has emerged which not only required better resourcement of the police service, but the active intervention of parents and the community to stop the scourge.

Another scourge, he said, was road accidents which are linked primarily to careless driving, over speeding which is turning roads into racing tracks, unlicensed driving and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged police visibility on the roads had proven to be a deterrent for overzealous motorists.

Justice Dibotelo, who retires this April, said the judiciary like the rest of the nation, commended the police for the job they were doing and joined the appeal for the better resourcement and the establishment of specialised units in the critical areas which impacted on investigations.

Justice Dibotelo assured the nation that the courts would continue to impose deterrent and exemplary sentences upon those convicted of the aforementioned and other offences.   

Meanwhile, Mr Dibotelo expressed worry over an emerging perception that whereas the police arrested suspects, the courts were quick and busy frustrating their noble endeavours by releasing the said suspects on bail.

He cautioned that this narration if not properly handled had the effect of setting the public against the judiciary.

He noted that for example, during the course of last week, the police paraded on national television one accused by the names of Keodiretse Tlhofaetsi alleged to have committed the offence of murder whilst on bail for allegedly committing another offense of murder.

Putting the record straight, Justice Dibotelo noted court records showed that on November 15, 2016 the accused person was denied bail by Village Magistrate Court and remanded in custody with his case being set for next mention on November 29, 2016.

He said record further showed that when this accused appeared before the magistrate on November 29, 2016, the police officer who represented the prosecution did not oppose bail.

Instead, he went on to propose conditions under which the accused person was to be released and the court duly released the accused person on the conditions proposed by the prosecution.

Justice Dibotelo further told the gathering, which included Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi that it wasworth noting that even though this offense was allegedly committed in 2016, the accused had not been committed for trial by the High Court.

To remedy this situation, he noted, he had in the past taken advantage of forum such as legal year opening and stakeholders conference to articulate the correct legal position and the situation as it obtained grounded by empirical data.

One such forum is 2013 Legal Year Opening, he said.

In the meantime, statistics from Magistrate Courts for the period November 2016 to October 2017 showed that 4 207 bail applications were registered of which 731 (17 per cent), were opposed resulting in 3 476 or 83 per cent being released on bail unopposed.

Of the total number of 3 476 released on bail unopposed, 163 re-offended and were arraigned for similar or other offences.

Justice Dibotelo however emphasised that denial of bail must not be used as a mechanism for imprisoning people under the guise or pretext that investigations were ongoing as something tangible had to be produced before the court.

In addition, he said judges of the High Court had resolved that a person denied bail at the Magistrate Court must approach the High Court by way of appeal, save in other exceptional circumstances as there were many instances of queue jumping. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Benjamin Shapi

Location : GABORONE

Event : 2018 Legal Year Opening

Date : Feb 07 Wed,2018

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