Saturday, May 15, 2021

Asylum seeker fears for his life at Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants

A 28 year old asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Bahati Ghadi last week pleaded with the Francistown Chief Magistrate Njabuliso Siziba to grant him protection against one of the prison officers who has a habit of assaulting him and provoking him. 

Ghati who is currently facing a single count of assaulting the same prison officer at the Centre for Illegal Immigrants said his life is in danger as the complainant (officer) continuously assaults and provokes him.  A clearly distraught Ghati, showed a fresh scar on his scalp to the court accusing the officer (complainant) for causing the injury.

“He recently assaulted me and caused the scar that is currently on my head. I have tried to report to the prison officials at the centre for illegal immigrants about my predicament but his colleagues are not taking any action. I live in fear because he might even come back to kill me,” he said. According to court documents, the accused (Ghati) assaulted the prison officer, Molefe Molefe on the 12th of March 2014 at the centre in Gerald Estate location after an altercation ensued between the two. He has pleaded not guilty to the offence. Ghati also requested the magistrate court to assist him with a lawyer as he is an asylum seeker who is not employed to afford legal representation. He further told the court that he has since served a lawsuit against the prison officials to the Francistown High Court for failing to help and protect him from the complainant but he still did not get any response. Ghati further said that at one point he was kept by the prison officials at the Francistown Maximum Prison for no apparent reason.

“Life is hard for me at the Centre for Illegal Immigrants. I have also long pleaded to report my case to the police officers but I was never afforded a chance to do so by the prison officials. I only got to see the police today as I came to court. I have since launched a lawsuit at the High Court against the prison officials but hirtherto I also never got any response,” he said.
However the prosecutor, Mompoloki Gaboipheme from the DPP said that there is need to make proper investigations to establish if the allegations made by the accused are indeed true.
“A proper investigation should be done to establish if it is true that the accused is harassed by the prison officer who is the complainant in this matter and to see to it if he should be relocated to safety,” she said. Regarding the accused’s request to be assisted with a lawyer, magistrate Siziba said the accused could only get a prodeo lawyer only if he was facing a murder charge. He however said he will look into his issue and assess circumstances around his claims in the coming mention which will be on the 23 November 2015. He also concurred with the prosecution that there is need for a proper investigation regarding the accused’s safety at the centre.
“The lawsuit is your own civil case therefore this court cannot interfere on that one. The prison officer who is also the complainant in this matter should also be summoned to court to come and explain the injuries on the accused person in the next mention,” concluded Siziba. In a separate matter, Atlholang Mojangi a former police officer who is facing a single count of murder also pleaded with Magistrate Siziba to order the police to bring back his belongings which were used by the forensic team for DNA investigations.  Mojangi is charged for the 2014 murder of one Bokani Sox a nurse who was based at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital.

“The police served me with an affidavit of the DNA and nothing connected me to the murder case. The investigation officers took my clothes, trousers, shirts and shoes and they are not returning them despite the fact that the DNA tests could not link me to the offence. They also told me that investigations are complete, therefore I am wondering why they are not returning my belongings” he said. However the Magistrate advised the accused to raise this issue in the coming mention on the 8th of December 2015 as the substantive prosecutor, Gasemotho Pitlagano was not in court.
The state was represented by Simon Mandla from the DPP. Mojanki is currently out on bail.

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