NATO NABBED FOR STOCK THEFT
Widely regarded as one of the country’s best defensive midfielders, soccer star Ofentse ‘Size 10’ Nato is in need of an altogether different type of defence.
In an embarrassing new low for local football, in the early hours of Monday morning the 29-year-old Township Rollers player was arrested and charged with stock theft.
The arrest came less than 48 hours after Nato – who has been capped over 50 times by the Zebras – took part in Rollers’ dramatic Mascom Top8 Semi Final defeat to Gaborone United.
Reportedly acting on a tip-off, Old Naledi Police nabbed the famous footballer and his herdboy, Molathlegi Tlhage near Nokia Warehouse traffic lights in Gaborone.
The duo were driving a Honda Fit and were allegedly found in possession of two goats which they failed to account for.
Police investigations indicate the goats were allegedly stolen and belong to one Nkagisang Mosime – Nato’s neighbour in Mogobane village.
After spending the night in detention at Ramotswa Police Station, Nato and Tlhage appeared before Mogobane Customary Court on Tuesday each charged with one count of stock theft.
The two are currently in custody at a First Offenders Prison – a fact that was confirmed by Mogobane Police Officer in Charge, Sub Inspector Masego Bantshang.
“The Investigations are at initial stage but we managed to find the owners of the stolen stock. We are yet to find out their intentions with the stolen goats,” Bantshang told The Voice, adding that both men would be back before court on 19 February.
Meanwhile, sources from Mogobane claimed Nato had long been giving farmers from the village sleepless nights, stealing their goats and selling them to butchery owners.
According to a neighbour, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, farmers have long suspected the high-profile sportsman was the one stealing their stock but they had no proof.
The agitated neighbour further reported hearing rumours that Rollers have approached Mosime in a bid to convince him to withdraw the case.
“That would be a bad decision. We want to set an example of Nato so that people can stop stealing our livestock.
“It is very painful to see someone acquitted after committing such an offence and enriching themselves with our stock! We no longer fear wild animals like hyenas and jackals but livestock rustlers!
“What surprises me is that Nato is also a farmer. Why is he not selling his goats?” queried the villager, shrugging his shoulders as if to emphasise his confusion.
When reached for a comment, Mosime said he was busy at work and flatly refused to discuss the matter as it is still under police investigation.
For his part, Rollers President Jagdish Shah revealed Nato did not report for training on Monday as expected. Shah said club officials were then sent to the player’s home village (Mogobane) to find out what happened.
“It was then that they established Nato is facing a criminal offence,” explained the Popa chief, adding he intends to meet with the player after the police have completed their investigations.
The incident marks a dark chapter in the colourful story of one of Botswana’s most successful footballers.
Having plied his trade in India and South Africa, Nato returned home in 2017 and has since established himself as a crucial part of the Rollers machine.