Tuesday, November 24, 2020

BDF officers further grilled in Kalafatis case

Whether by design or by mistake, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) armoury division flouted its own practice and omitted to record guns and the number of bullets returned on the night that John Kalafatis was gunned down, the High Court has heard.

Despite knowledge that the guns, magazines and bullets might form part of police exhibits, army officials did not secure the bullets and magazines to assist in police investigations.

Testifying before court on Monday, the BDF Registrar of Armoury Pedzani Masankela said that it is standard practice for BDF officers on duty to sign for ammunition in their custody as well as follow the same procedure when retuning the weapons.

He said that if a soldier returns BDF equipment, albeit with missing items or shortage of bullets, the issue is reported to the checking officer who then makes a statement before the issue is referred to superior officers.

Masankela told the court that when they reported for duty, Boitshoko Maifala, Ronnie Matako and Gotshosang Sechele, the three men accused of killing Kalafatis, were each given a gun, two magazines and 20 bullets.

He said that, following the shooting incident, Maifala returned with a gun a magazine and 10 bullets, Matako returned a gun, a magazine and 18 bullets while Sechele brought a gun, magazine and 15 bullets.

He said that he did not write down the missing bullets because he had been told prior that there had been a shooting incident by his superior and the three men.

He said he accepted the weapons without requesting for the men to make statements as is procedure because he was satisfied with the answers they furnished.

Asked by Judge David Newman how come he knew with precision the items returned in the absence of a record, Masankela replied:

“It is my job; it is the only incident that occurred while I was on duty.”

Masankela said that after the men returned their weapons, he took them into the armoury division, along with other bullets, and placed them in the armoury section.

Masankela’s colleague, Wabuya Tabengwa, who at the time was the checking officer, also did not record that there was a shooting incident nor that the army officers accused of killing Kalafatis had a shortage of bullets.

Tabengwa said that although he did not record it in the occurrence book as part of the army’s procedure, the incident was captured in the annual report.

He said it was the responsibility of the operations’ division to have entered the information in the occurrence book.

Meanwhile, the case is set for final oral arguments on the 15th of next month.

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The Telegraph November 25

Digital edition of The Telegraph, November 25, 2020.