The five: Nhlanhla Ndebele, Vusa Dube, Mthabisi Dube, Qhubani Ncube and Surprise Phiri were arrested near Area G location in Francistown in August last year after a tip off from the public. Their vehicle was impounded by Botswana military police and taken to army barracks where five AK47 rifles, three pistols and 23 live rounds were recovered from the engine. However, on Friday Zimbabwean-born Francistown magistrate, Pride Rusike acquitted the men on the grounds that the state had failed to prove that the weapons that were found in their possession are indeed arms of war.
Rusike stated that the evidence provided by the army and polices ballistic report was insufficient and lacking in detail, such that the court could not rely on it. She pointed fingers at the investigating officers for their lack of professionalism. In his defence Ndebele, who was leading the group, said he used the fire arms and ammunition for self-defence as he was a businessman transporting cigarettes through countries like Angola and Namibia. Ndebele said that he only came to Botswana to collect a vehicle and he had forgotten to declare the arms at the border post. All Ndebeles co- accused did not plead guilty to the charges.