Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Former Debswana employee loses diamond conviction appeal

The High Court has confirmed the conviction of a former Debswana boilermaker who was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for possessing four rough or uncut diamonds three years ago.
Obokeng Kealeboga was found guilty of possessing three rough or uncut diamonds weighing 6.29 carats, valued at P30, 998.00 on October 27, 2007 in Maun, and another rough or uncut diamond weighing 0.45 carats valued at P1, 153.20 on October 29, 2007 at Letlhakane.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently.

The evidence led showed that he was a semiskilled boiler maker attached to Debswana from 2000 to 2006; he was based at the Orapa Diamond Mine when the theft occurred.

His co-accused, Samuel Maitapiso, was acquitted and discharged on the first count.

Confirming the magistrate’s conviction and sentence, Justice Terrence Rannowane, said the police who arrested Kealeboga were not haphazardly searching every traveller alighting from the Blessing Bus from Orapa; they had specific information that he would board a specific taxi and they focused their surveillance on the bus from which he would alight and the taxi that he would board thereafter.

“It would have been too much of a coincidence that an innocent man would alight from a specified bus, board a specific taxi and as soon as he got inside the taxi be observed hiding something under the driver’s seat when he was being apprehended, and such a thing being later discovered to be diamonds,” said Justice Rannowane.The evidence suggested that the police were acting on good information and it had paid dividends. The suspect was nabbed and diamonds were discovered where he had just been sitting.

“I have studied the entire evidence led before the court and I am satisfied that it (the court) was right in returning a guilty verdict…. I accordingly dismiss the appeal and confirm the conviction.” The appeal against sentence was apparently abandoned because it was never argued. It was therefore confirmed, the Judge ruled.

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