A ZIMBABWEAN national who claimed to be a businessman was refused bail when he appeared before a Botswana magistrate charged with cheque fraud last week.
Prosecutors say Jeff Chigaundu, 48, presented a false First National Bank (FNB) cheque to Jan Japan Company in order to obtain two Toyota Hiace mini buses and an E320 Mercedes Benz, all worth P266 000 (about US$27,000, in Francistown on February 7, 2015.
The state said the cars were impounded at Bisole from some locals who were instructed to take them Zimbabwe.
Chigaundu admitted to the offence but pleaded with the court to grant him bail because he has business interests in the country that would bind him to attend trial.
“I have called my business partner to act as my surety. I promise to abide by all the conditions that the court will set. I also have children here who I cannot leave. I promise to come to court until the matter is finalised,” he said.
However, the woman he claimed to be his business partner denied she worked with him.
Boitumelo Moremi said that she shares a nursery school business with Chigaundu’s wife and not him.
She however, said that she was confident that Chigaundu would attend trial when required since ‘he is a trustworthy person’.
“I trust that he would come to court for continuation of trial because he stayed with my uncle in Gaborone and was an obedient and trusted person.
“I do not have a problem of paying P2,000 in order for the accused to obtain bail,” she said.
The P2,000 bond offer riled Chief Magistrate Gaedupe Makgatho.
“The accused is alleged to have obtained vehicles worth P266 000 which is a very substantial amount fraudulently,” said the magistrate.
“Who said that I would order that you bind yourself with P2000 for the accused to get bail?”
Assistant Superintendent Gaamangwe Kebinakgabo objected to the accused being granted bail.
He said that the prosecution went to Ramokgwebana border post to enquire from immigration authorities where Chigaundu had entered Botswana, but the system did not reflect when he came here.
Kebinakgabo argued that Chigaundu was in the country illegally and should be denied bail, as he was a flight risk.
The magistrate concurred with the prosecution and refused Chigaundu bail.
“Your application for bail is refused because your surety is not even sure if she wants to put her head on the block and state whether you will abscond from trial or not,” she said.
Chugaundu was remanded in custody to June 22 for trial.