Jailed for picking P40 000 in the bush

11th July 2017
Galani Masupa Source:The Midweek Sun


By Peter Madiya - Reporter

Two cousins Galani Masupa and Gakenakgang Phalalo learnt one or two sides about the law when they picked roughly $3700 stashed somewhere in the thickets of Phase VI locality in Francistown in 2012.

Picking up the money and failing to hand it over to the police earned him and his cousin a one-month reprimand jail term. After serving his punishment, he explained to The Midweek Sun that most of the time people pick up property including money which does not belong to them but fail to hand over such to the police. He said that he was not aware that picking up money even in the bush and failing to hand it over to the police is an offence called ‘stealing by finding.’ “In my case, my cousin Phalalo went to the bush and came back holding some wads of crispy notes which I immediately identified to be US dollars. We then went back inside the thicket and found an abandoned safe which contained some money and we proceeded to take the money since it was just lying around.

“After taking the money we entered town and changed it at some Chinese retail stores and proceeded partying for some days until one resident who knew the whole story and wanted us to buy his silence, tipped off the police,” Masupa said. He said that they were then arrested and detained for some days as investigations continued but the investigations proved that their only link to the abandoned safe stashed with cash was through picking the money for personal use. When the case finally came for trial this year in March before principal magistrate Basupi, the duo was slapped with two remand warrants of 14 days each for not declaring the money before they were also tongue-lashed for their irresponsible actions.

The magistrate had informed them that there was no defence against picking as it amounts to stealing. Superintendent Lebalang Maniki whose jurisdiction the case is under disclosed that during the investigation there was no case of robbery or theft recorded at his station hence the reasons the culprits were merely given a reprimand sentence of one month so that they do not repeat the same mistake of picking what does not belong to them.

He continued that cases of this nature are not common as most of the times, people do not report to the police when they pick cash and other valuable property to the police. Maniki confirmed that there is an offence known as stealing by finding under the Penal Code of Botswana. Maniki warned that members of the public must at all times hand over property found unaccounted for to the police. “Even if its money, just hand it to the police because if you pick it up and someone witnesses you doing so and the case is reported to the police, you will be duly charged,” Maniki said.

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