South Africa pulls the red carpet from Khama’s feet

17 Jun 2019

The South African government has withdrawn the VIP escort they have been providing to former President Lt Gen Ian Khama whenever he visited the country.

Khama had a nasty surprise Monday morning when he landed at Pilanesburg Airport in Phokeng South Africa at 09:20 only to discover that the South African Police Services (SAPS) authorities were not in attendance to give him the usual VIP escort.

Khama was in South Africa, Phokeng to ask Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of Bafokeng to help fund the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). The SAPS however refused to give him VIP escort from the airport to the Bafokeng Royal House.

The Sunday Standard can reveal that Khama entourage which included his official bodyguards, Bridgette Motsepe Radebe, Malcolm X and Tshwane Malope protested against the absence of SAPS officers and the VIP treatment. SAPS officers on duty however told them that they did not have instructions to escort Khama as usual. They further advised Khama to hire a private security company.

Khama’s entourage then called Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi to ask for VIP escort. Kgosi Molotlegi however politely refused to provide VIP escort for Khama. He told the former president of Botswana that he was welcome at the Bafokeng Royal House but said he could not commit Bafokeng resources and vehicles to provide him VIP escort saying this might bring the royal house into conflict with Bafokeng tribe and the South African government.

Bridgette Motsepe Radebe then arranged two vehicles with security officers from one of her local mining companies to take charge of Khama’s security to-and-from the Bafokeng Royal House.

The SAPS’s decision to withdraw Khama’s VIP escort is believed to be in line with the South African government’s recent pronouncement in which it distanced itself from Bridgette Motsepe Radebe’s campaign to topple President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu was in Gaborone on 19th April as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s envoy to assure President Masisi that the South African government is not party to Motsepe-Radebe’s campaign.

Sisulu told a subsequent press conference in South Africa that her task was to convey to President Masisi that relations between South Africa remained “extremely solid.”

“What the President of Botswana indicated was that he was very happy that an envoy had been sent to Botswana to give the necessary assurances, but that he had no doubt that the government of South Africa had no role in anything that might have appeared in the media,” Sisulu said.