Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Commissioned BDF officer sings Kalafatis’ blues

An officer of the Botswana Defence Force has produced a written affidavit, stating in detail how he and others participated in the hunting of John Kalafatis.

Kalafatis was eventually killed in April this year.

In his affidavit, the officer says he was detained for nine days after Kalafatis death when there were suspicions by senior people in the security agencies that he was showing too much interest in the death of Kalafatis.
He also had some documents seized from him before he was summarily tried and demoted from Lieutenant to Second Lieutenant.

“My trial was a total sham and bore all the hallmarks of a trial whose outcome was predetermined,” he says in his affidavit.

The officer says Kalafatis was killed because he was suspected to have been involved in a robbery at the house of one of Botswana’s wealthiest businessmen staying in Phakalane.
Made under a judicial Commissioner of Oaths, the affidavit will become the most crucial evidence in a private civil suit brought by the Kalafatis’ family against the Government of Botswana.

With a scene reminiscent of the Italian Mafioso, the affidavit also paints a picture of how well connected the businessman is to some of Botswana’s top political elites, a connection that even shocked some of the officers that were involved in the Kalafatis operation.

“On our return from Phakalane, Ranka asked why the arrest of John required the involvement of MI and DISS when he had single handedly arrested John a few times before without the slightest difficulty. He also expressed his confidence that the police would and could arrest John without any assistance of MI or DISS and wondered why there seemed to be so much pressure and undue haste about his arrest.”

It also turned out that Military Intelligence operatives had set up post at the businessman’s residence in Phakalane to provide him with security while the hunt for John was underway.
“I must indicate that I grew up in Bontleng. I got to know John sometime in 1999 while I was a student at the University of Botswana studying for a Diploma in Computer Science. I became acquainted with John and his younger brother Costa Kalafatis……

“Having grown in and around Bontleng in Gaborone, I knew John [Kalafatis] very well and could identify him positively to the team that was involved in his manhunt. My major role in the operation was to gather all intelligence information and leads, to assist in finding John and when so found to positively identify him to the rest of the members of the team,” says the affidavit in part.

The soldier says he was surprised at one time to see that even though he was involved knee-deep in the hunt for Kalafatis, there were days when the other officers would not come to pick him up to join them in the operation.

“He [another officer] stated that he and other officers had found John at or near Kofifi Bar in Extension 14 Gaborone and would have killed him right there because they were heavily armed. He stated that John had escaped and eluded them in a manner he could not understand. He told me that was why he had not come for me; he had acted immediately he received information about John’s whereabouts and that John had succeeded in eluding them.”
The officer says at that point he realised that the true intensions of Kalafatis manhunt had not been disclosed to him.

“I then realised that it seemed that John was now to be killed and not arrested as I had earlier on understood the purpose of our operation to be. I expressed my shock and surprise at the fact that John would have been killed at Kofifi.”

At some point in time the businessman whose house had allegedly been robbed passed information that Kalafatis had been spotted in Molepolole.

“We drove to Molepolole where we were joined by a team known as Cobra, which is a unit within the Military Police of BDF, as well as Broadhurst Police detectives. I was extremely shocked to discover that the officers from Cobra were heavily armed with assault rifles and were clad in bulletproof vests for protection as if they were going to engage in combat. The team then proceeded to raid a certain house in Molepolole only to find that the person who was present there was not John Kalafatis but one John January. The raid was called off.”

“In the early morning of 14, May, 2009 I received a call on my phone from Philemon, in which he informed me that John was killed the previous night.”
Philemon also said one of the officers involved was going to receive “a huge monetary payout as a reward” from the alleged robbed businessman.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.