- Plead guilty to unlawful possession of firearms
- Sentencing expected next week
- Four other suspects remain at large
Two South African nationals, Mokgadi Matlou and William Maphoto, have been convicted on two counts of unlawful possession of firearms and unlawful possession of ammunition.
The two, who are both from the Lephalale in South Africa’s Limpopo province, pleaded guilty to the charges when they appeared before Magistrate Daniel Tau of Village Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday).
Magistrate Tau ordered that the suspects appear in court again on 15 May 2023 for possible mitigation and sentencing.
Matlou and Maphoto were arrested in late January following a shootout with law enforcement officers at Block 8 in Gaborone. A police statement of 23 January said one suspect was apprehended on the scene while five others escaped.
The second suspect was arrested later on the same day while travelling on Zeerust Road and was found in possession of a 9mm Star Fire pistol and four rounds of ammunition. Four suspects are still at large.
The two may face a maximum prison sentence of five years.
While court papers do not specify the intended purpose of the firearms, sources close to the investigations have linked the suspects to an alleged plot to assassinate President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
According to these sources, intelligence agents received information suggesting that gunmen had been hired to eliminate President Masisi.
It is said the DISS agents tracked the suspects as they entered Botswana through an ungazetted point from South Africa and followed them to an isolated area in Block 8 in Gaborone where a shootout ensued.
DISS has long maintained that President Masisi’s life is under threat and has frequently changed his security detail and patterns but opposition politicians have dismissed this as fantasy and a ploy to gain sympathy from the general population.