Saturday, July 13, 2024

Butale’s sexual misconduct case comes before Disciplinary Committee on Friday

Two months after startling revelations that he engaged in not fully consensual hanky-panky with a female student at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the (outgoing?) president of the Botswana Patriotic Front, Reverend Biggie Butale, will appear before the party’s Disciplinary Committee July 9 – this Friday.

The Committee had wanted Butale to appear before it last Friday (July 2) but he declared himself unavailable on that date and picked his own date. The former assistant minister and Tati West MP finds himself in this unenviable position courtesy of lust and technology. At least according to the student’s account, Butale lured her to his house (which doubled as a lair on the fateful day) on the understanding that he wanted to discuss BPF business. As an account she narrates in a letter that The Voice has published shows, party business turned out to be monkey business.

“He invited me inside and led me to the living room. Upon entering the living room he pinned me to the wall and took out a condom from his pocket. He demanded we should have sex and I refused. The he unbuckled his belt and trousers to rub his genitals on mine, still I refused. I tried using my hands to block him from touching me and inserting his penis but he kept holding my hands,” the paper quotes the girl.

The student secretly recorded a telephone conversation in which she remonstrates with him for having his way with her. Butale digresses to ask her if she came but one little embarrassing detail in her letter makes clear the fact that the former minister didn’t work patiently and expertly enough to produce an outcome that would have caused the student to give response that he evidently wanted to hear.

“He then opted to put his penis in between my thighs and thrust until he satisfied himself. I felt his semen dripping down my right leg. He shamelessly showed me the guest room and told me to clean myself up and when I was done he gave me a bottle of water,” the girl’s letter alleges.

On the face of it, Butale is on fragile ground but he might decide to firm up such ground by standing on a piece of legislation that he was custodian of for a period of time: the Electronic Records (Evidence) Act which sets stringent evidentiary standards. In terms of this Act, the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has to certify electronic records obtained from electronic recording systems as valid. If the Committee introduces the recording as evidence, Butale who is a lawyer, may decide to play hard ball with a Committee which doesn’t have a lawyer member. In the past, Butale has been quoted in the media as stating that he wanted to engage some kind of experts (audio engineers possibly) to verify the authenticity of the recording.

The case comes as Maggie Joubert, a BPF Central Committee member who was part of a three-member investigation team into the sexual misconduct allegations resigned from the party. The BUAN student is supposed to have told this team that Butale didn’t actually rape her but put pressure on her until she gave in. This would explain why the case was never reported to the police.

Two years into its short life, BPF is already riven by factionalism, one faction is led by Butale himself and the other by the founder and patron, former president Ian Khama. Joubert, who ran as a council candidate in the 2019 general election and was in charge of the Labour Affairs portfolio in the Central Committee, was in Butale’s faction. 


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