The constitution of Botswana was once again the lightning rod of controversy as traditional leaders criticized it for promoting criminal activism at the expense of the victims.
The House of Chiefs on Friday unanimously called on the government to change the Constitution and allow stock theft cases to be trialed specifically at customary courts.
The constitutional change, according to the House, would benefit Batswana as unnecessary delays would be eliminated and stock theft cases be trialed in time and thus quell the public out-cry.
Presenting a motion requesting government to specifically assign stock theft cases as well as their appeals to customary courts only, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane of Bamangwato said he was concerned at the number of stock theft cases in the country that benefit the offenders at the expense of the victims simply because the constitution lobbies for a legal representation to every individual offenders.
Such legal representation, Kgosi Kgamane said, leads to delays as cases are withdrawn at customary courts with the instruction of a lawyer to be postponed time and again at the magistrate courts.
Kgosi Kgamane says such withdrawals and postponements fuel the incidents of stock theft cases as livestock either disappear or die at the custody of the police.
Further, skins rot and decay with the brands, he said.
With such unfair incidents Kgosi Kgamane called for a change in the constitution.
“With such unfair incidents the constitution needs to be changed and deny offenders legal representation specifically on stock theft cases. The constitution of a country should benefit its people,” adding the constitution was home made and thus subject to change.
Such exclusive stock theft cases, he noted, would be trialed in time with fresh evidence and exhibits still in existence.
But with the present constitution the opposite is what happens, he stressed.
Kgosi Kgamane also lobbied for the re-introduction of back corporal punishment specifically for stock theft cases adding “such a change would deter other would be potential offenders from committing the offence”.
Kgosi Molatole of Northern region welcomed the motion saying with such a constitutional change, incidents of stock theft cases would be reduced adding poor Batswana farmers would breathe a fresh air.