Francistown High Court Judge, Justice Bashi Moesi has ruled that three Malawian nationals, John Mayodi, Enock Nkatha and Gaston Kamanga who are accused of human trafficking have a case to answer.
The trio are accused of acting jointly to defeat the ends of justice by smuggling three women, Sakina Kaboda, Mary Mhone, and Melise Biston, a 22-year-old man, Thomas Manda and a baby boy Craig Kaboda to South Africa from Malawi. Lady luck ran out for them when they were busted by security personnel at the Kazungula border post in route to South Africa.
Moesi noted that after closely monitoring the evidence and admitted facts provided by the prosecution and the defence, he has come to the conclusion that the state has established a prima facie case against the three accused persons. He said: “The investigating officer Akanyang David told the court in his evidence in chief that some of the victims had valid passports while others used temporary traveller’s documents which did not allow them to travel to Botswana. Others did not have passports which means they were in Botswana illegally.”
Moesi reiterated David’s sentiments that the victims did not have South African work and residence permits therefore there is a possibility that they were going to work as slaves and under hard conditions.
In the previous court appearance, the Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Priscilla Israel argued that the three accused persons should be convicted of human trafficking because there is overwhelming evidence against them. “The offence of human trafficking may include many different acts. Trafficking includes transporting, transferring or receipt of persons.” Israel highlighted that smuggling is a violation of immigration laws, adding that one of the victims did not have traveller’s documents. “It is evident that the victims were going to different destinations as the other one was going to Cape Town, while the other one was going to Durban while the other one was going to Johannesburg,” she said.
Israel further argued that one of the victims was using a passport not belonging to him and was only arrested after trying to cross into Botswana. She added: “All the victims are illiterate and therefore they were exploited due to their illiteracy.” Israel further argued that evidence led by the Investigating Officer indicates that illegal immigrants are exploited.
On the other hand, the defence attorney Morris Ndawana maintains that his clients are innocent and should be discharged and acquitted. Ndawana said the evidence produced by the state is immaterial and insufficient and cannot warrant a conviction. The case has been adjourned to April 23 for status hearing. The accused persons’ bail was also extended.