Saturday, January 22, 2022

DIS ordered to compensate victim

The Lobatse High Court on Friday awarded a default judgment in favour of a harassment victim who was suing the the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS).

Phillip Tlhage was suing the spy agency for P2.9 million. He alleges that he was arrested, detained, interrogated and threatened with violence at the hands of DIS agents. Cited in the court papers are the Attorney General, Athaliah Molokomme, DISS Director General Isaac Kgosi, the Police Commissioner and two other operatives as defendants.

Attorney David Moloise from the Attorney General Chambers told the court that the respondents were not opposing the application. Delivering judgement, Justice Abednigo Tafa noted that DISS has difficulties in giving Moloise instructions. The judge noted that the respondents had failed to deliver their plea within the time stipulated in the Rules of Court. He ordered that the damages claimed by Tlhage be referred to the Master and Registrar of the court for assessment.

Tlhage’s five claims include P450,000 for breach of constitutionally protected rights, P750,000 and P500,000 for unlawful arrest by DIS, P750,000 for unlawful detention by police and P500,000 for what he calls “delictual damages for breach of a statutory duty.” Tlhage states that on 29 April 2013 he was arrested by members of the DISS allegedly for a statement he had made against President Ian Khama. Subsequent to his arrest, Tlhage says was taken to a DISS facility where he was held and detained for nine hours by intelligence agents.

While there he was he was repeatedly threatened with physical violence with DIS officers continuously threatening him that they have all personal information about him which they could use in the manner they deemed fit. Tlhage said at the time of his arrest he was not convicted of or charged with any offence but was finger printed, photographed, made to feel like a criminal and repeatedly accused of being a threat to national security and the Government of the day. He said DISS agents told him that they have an obligation to defend the Government of the day.

Tlhage says the DISS agents including Director General Isaac Kgosi took turns interrogating, taunting, denigrating and threatening him with torture and violence; indicating to him that if he did not tell them what he said about the President they have ‘mechanisms’ which can make him talk and will not hesitate to use them on him .

Tlhage states in court papers that DIS agents ridiculed him for not liking the President while he was in the employment of his civil service, had his money in his wallet and had Botswana flag pin attached to his jacket. He added that the agents told him that if he doesn’t like President Khama he should leave the country.

Tlhage says that the treatment he was subjected to by DISS agents was intended not only to dehumanize him but to terrorise him emotionally, psychologically and physically. He says such treatment was intended to cower him into making self incriminating statements out of fear to suit DIS agents’ needs to lay charges against him. Tlhage says Kgosi further threatened to write to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture (the employer ministry for Tlhage) and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) about the incident, that he was a dangerous and disloyal citizen.

Tlhage was represented by Dr Bucks Molatlhegi and Kabo Motswagole of Monthe and Marumo Attorneys (Incorporating Molatlhegi and Associates).

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