The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) says it will support four members of the military intelligence who have been charged with the death of John Kalafatis and will neither interdict nor suspend them from duty.
The Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Colonel Mogorosi Baatweng, told The Sunday Standard on Friday that they “will fully support” the four accused BDF members.
“As BDF, the four officers will not be suspended or interdicted from duty because of the alleged crime that they have been charged with,” he said.
Baatweng said BDF maintains that the four officers committed the alleged crime while in the line of duty. He further said attorney Phadza Kgalemang was engaged by the BDF to defend the quartet and the army will bear all their legal costs.
He said that the accused officers Dzikamani Mothobi, Goitsemang Sechele, Ronny Matako and Boitshoko Maifala will report for duty but will not be deployed until their case is finalized, adding that the officers will abide by the bail conditions that were set by the High Court.
The officers have been charged by the Directorate of Public Prosecution and appeared before the Southern Regional Magistrate Lot Moroka in Gaborone where the charge was read to them and plea reserved. The suspects were granted bail by the High Court last Wednesday.
Indications are that the state is half hearted in its decision to prosecute the four members of the military intelligence.
Last year, BDF commander, Tebogo Masire distanced himself from the shooting explaining that the army officers were attached to the Botswana Police Service at the time of the incident. The BDF commander told Sunday Standard that once the officers are attached to Botswana Police, the BDF is not informed about their assignments.
Indications are that the police and the state did not want to press charges against the four police officers and instead preferred to conduct an inquest.
Botswana Police Service Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa, told Sunday Standard last year that an inquest docket had already been opened on the Kalafatis murder. He said the inquest will then reveal all the circumstances that led to his shooting.
Minister Ndelu Seretse, whose portfolio responsibilities include the DPP, the BDF and the Botswana Police Service and the Botswana Prison Services, also supported an inquest. He told a press conference last year that government had launched an investigation in accordance with the Inquest Act.
Lawyers acting for the Kalafatis family accused the government of trying to protect the four soldiers by instigating an inquest instead of a proper criminal investigation. Following pressure and threats of a private prosecution, the government finally filed charges against the four soldiers.
The DPP’s decision not to oppose the for military intelligence officers applications for bail has raised eyebrows in legal circles.
The Botswana Prisons Service, which is headed by a BDF officer, has also indicated sympathy towards the four soldiers. Contrary to the Prisons Act, the four soldiers were not shackled in leg irons after they were remanded in custody by Magistrate Lot Moroka.
The John Kalafatis case has been a year coming to court and investigations have raised 21 witnesses and generated 26 pages in summery of evidence.
The prosecution’s list of exhibits includes a post-mortem examination report and an affidavit by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Nunu Lesetedi.