Tuesday, September 29, 2020

BDP dirty linen aired in court

Allegations of death threats, poll rigging and factional fights are flying fast and thick in court in a case where the Botswana Democratic Party Councilor for Magokotswane Ward in Molepolole, Aaron Ramerafe, is facing criminal charges.

Ramerafe has been arraigned before Magistrate Janet Phosa for allegedly threatening to kill party Youth Branch Chairman, Michael Bagopi, who is said to be from a rival faction.

The alleged death threat against Bagopi is the culmination of a running rivalry between the two BDP leaders whose fight for the control of Magokotswane Ward has attracted claims of poll rigging.

It emerged during trial that at the height of the rivalry, Ramerafe boasted that he was a retired member of the Botswana Defence Force and said Bagopi would be dead in 14 days.

Under cross examination, defence lawyer, Ookediste Maphakwane, suggested that Bagopi harboured a grudge against Ramerafe who defeated him during the last party primary elections and was using the death threat allegations to get back at him.

Although Bagopi denied begrudging Ramerafe, he admitted that he had felt the elections were rigged and he wrote a letter raising his complaint with the party.

Bagopi denied that the grudge against Ramerafe was as a result of heavy rivalry between two BDP camps.

?I do not belong to any faction in the BDP,? retorted Bagopi, ?and I am not fighting for any position with anyone.?

During the long cross examination, however, Bagopi conceded that they had actually insulted each other on the day in question.

According to a charge sheet prepared by officers at the Directorate of Public Prosecution, Ramerafe had on September 4, 2005 made death threats against Bagopi, saying, ?You are full of s?t, I will make you defecate and will kill you.?

These words, said the complainant when giving evidence in chief, were uttered by Ramerafe when Bagopi had gone to request for a public address system he intended to use to inform people in the ward about coming elections in the ward.

Bagopi said before going to meet Ramerafe, he had made the request over the phone but was told by the accused that he did not want to discuss such issues over the phone. Bagopi said during the meeting, Ramerafe accused him of causing confusion in the ward and that when he tried to explain the importance of the meeting, Ramerafe pointed a finger at him and said, ?This man is talking rubbish.?

Bagopi said he then appealed to one Bakang, who was with Ramerafe, to intervene but Ramerafe shouted, ?You are talking s?t.?

Bagopi confessed that at that point, he also responded by telling Ramerafe that he was also talking s?t. He said at that point, Ramerafe advanced towards him as if he wanted to fight him but he, Bagopi, ran around the car till Bakang intervened. The two, said Bagopi, then got into their car but before they drove away, Ramerafe again said, ?I will kill you,? whilst pointing at Bagopi. This, he said, frightened him because Ramerafe was older than him.

Bagopi said after that he went to the police station to report the matter. He said that whilst at the police station, the Member of Parliament for Molepolole South, Daniel Kwelagobe, called him and instructed him to go and collect a car from another constituency. He said while on the way to collecting the car with another party member, they met Ramerafe with Bakang who flashed their car?s lights indicating that they should stop. After they did so, Ramerafe came and spoke to the person who was accompanying Bagopi. Ramerafe once more threatened Bagopi saying, ?I will kill this man,? whilst pointing a finger at Bagopi.

Bagopi also told the court that Ramerafe boasted about being a former soldier and declared that he would give him (Bagopi) 14 days within which he could be dead.

The case continues at Broadhurst.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.