Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Councilors plead immunity from arrest within council premises

Maun: Local Government and Rural Development Minister Slumber Tsogwane has told North West District Councilors to lead by example and always portray best behavior lest they find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Tsogwane was responding to Councilor Botshelo Mapa’s concern that the police undermine the political leadership such that they sometimes follow them up to answer for crimes they might have committed even when council is in session.

Mapa quoted standing order number 86, section 33 of the Local Government Act which states in sub section 3.1.8 that a member of council is not liable for arrest within the precincts of the council while council is sitting, for any criminal offence without the consent of the chairman. 

It says also that  “No civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a member of a council or a committee thereof, or by reason of any matter brought by the member by petition, motion or otherwise and that a member of council is not liable to arrest for any civil debts whilst going to, attending or returning from the meeting of the council.”.

Mapa said he felt pressured to make the minister aware of the oversight by members of Botswana Police after a fellow councilor was snatched by police on Friday while council was in session without the consent of the council chairman.

He said such behavior by the police should be discouraged and therefore asked the minister to intervene. Although Tsogwane admitted that kind of protection is  stipulated in the Local Government Act, he said as leaders, councilors are also expected to work hand in hand and assist the police to discourage lawlessness and that it should start with them.

For his part, Officer Commanding number 5 District Senior Superintendent Peter Gochela said while they understand the provision by the Local government Act, no one should be above the law. 

“In the eyes of the law people are all equal, and so as a result councilors are not exempted because as the police we also have duty to protect the complainant”. Gochela noted also that their relationship with the political leadership is so far fine and that they are intending to work even more closely for the development of Maun and the entire district.

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