Tuesday, September 29, 2020

BNF knife stabbing, a blessing – insider

In the chilling yet somewhat bizarrely plausible explanation of a Botswana National Front central committee member, the stabbing of a party member at last weekend’s national conference was ‘a blessing in disguise.’ That explanation is part of Theory 1.

Hadn’t the culprit buried in the shoulder of the victim what, according to the press, was definitely a knife (and a ‘sharp instrument’ according to the police) a mob would have poured into the conference hall and chaos a lot similar to that which happened in Palapye 10 years ago would have resulted.

“The mob targeted [party president Otsweletse] Moupo’s speech. Their plan was to interrupt his speech, start a fight and throw the whole conference into chaos just like happened at the Palapye congress in 1998,” alleges the central committee member.

A mobile phone text message revealing this plan was reportedly intercepted by Moupo’s supporters and security at the entrance of the hall was beefed up. When the mob could not get in, a scuffle ensued and climaxed with one of the crowd-control marshals whipping out a knife and plunging it in the victim’s shoulder.

The conference organisers received further intelligence that elements within the mob had planned for worse on the last day of the conference. To obviate occurrence of any more chaos and bring more shame on the party, the security cordon was shifted from the hall entrances to the gates of the conference venue.

While major chaos was averted and a contingent of police officers was called in to restore law and order, the BNF will, according to its spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa, carry out its parallel investigation of what happened on the second day of the Jwaneng conference and take appropriate action.
“The BNF doesn’t condone violence and this incident will be thoroughly investigated to establish the facts. At this point we are still awaiting a report from the conference marshals,” Mohwasa says.
On its last day, the conference recommended that the leadership should stamp out lawlessness and indiscipline in the party.

Conversely, PUSO, a group member of the BNF to which the victim is aligned, has already carried out its own investigations. PUSO’s main finding is that the stabbing incident was conceived and orchestrated by a senior party official in the southern region. The official’s name is known to Sunday Standard. That is Theory 2.

PUSO leader and Lobatse MP, Nehemiah Modubule says that his party concluded its investigations on Thursday and found that the man who did the stabbing was actually the second-choice hit man.
“Initially one of the security guards at the conference was asked to carry out the job but he refused,” says Modubule, adding that they have actually met and interviewed the guard in question. However, they could not establish whether payment was involved.

The MP says that in the course of its investigations, PUSO also met the township’s police from which it learnt that the culprit was a repeat offender with whom officers have dealt with on numerous occasions. The other version of this particular account, as provided by someone more sympathetic to Theory 1, is that the culprit is a resident of a tough squatter camp and once before has acted as an intermediary between government officials and fellow residents over plans to get the latter to move out.

Moeti’s account is that the person who did the stabbing is a member of the BNF and was working as a crowd-control marshal at the time of the incident.

Both theories will be put to the test when the case goes to trial. Superintendent Bafitlhetse Mothubana of Jwaneng police station says that the suspect was apprehended and will soon come before a local court on charges of unlawful wounding.
PUSO has not yet shared its findings with the police which, at press time, were only a day old. However, Modubule says they would be doing that at the earliest opportunity.

“We want the police to have a full picture of what really happened when they take the case to court,” the MP says.

PUSO has also not shared its findings with the BNF but Modubule says they are planning to write a letter of complaint to the party’s leadership.
Mothubana could not say whether the victim was a delegate because the law enforcement’s interest in the case does not extend that far. However, that detail could be useful in helping those who would unravel this case.

Information about the victim’s status at the conference is conflicting. On the day of the incident he appeared on Btv to recount his hard-luck narrative to the nation. By his account, he was trapped in human traffic jam at the entrance of the hall when he was stabbed.

From what Mohwasa says, the man would not have been a delegate as “everyone who qualified as a delegate was allowed inside.” He adds that some PUSO members who had not registered as delegates tried to force their way in. However, according to Modubule, the victim was registered as a registered delegate.

While it may have been a blessing in disguise, the stabbing incident bodes ill for the BNF-PUSO relationship which over the past couple of months has deteriorated. Following the incident, it is hard to imagine a scenario that would not result in this not relationship being strained farther.

Modubule is however confident that the BNF-PUSO relationship can be nursed back to good health.
“The damage is not irreparable. All we have to do is sit down and sort out our differences. If we do that, I believe the situation will get back to normal,” Modubule says.

It better because an abnormal situation would not help Modubule who is running for re-election on a BNF ticket.

Before returning the situation to normal, both parties will have to wash their dirty laundry at the Jwaneng customary court.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.