Bakgatla Regent, Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela11, has launched a crusade to mobilize Botswana’s civil society against extra judicial killings by the state.
Among Non Governmental Organizations that have been approached are Ditshwanelo – The Centre for Human Rights, The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana Chapter, The Botswana Law Society, The Botswana Council of Churches, The Muslim Community, Baha’i Faith and Dikgosi of Botswana.
Kgafela, who says he is acting in his capacity as Bakgatla regent, this week wrote letters to a number of Non Governmental Organizations saying he has been prompted “by a very troubling state of affairs that has presently gripped our nation and is threatening fundamental values of our society which are enshrined in the Constitution of Botswana”.
Kgosi Kgafela states in the letter that “on the 13th of May 2009 Mr John Kalafatis was gunned down execution style by security personnel employed by the Government of Botswana. It has come to surface that incidents of a similar nature have occurred in the past 12 months involving about 8 other deaths of innocent civilians. None of the persons involved in carrying out the killing of citizens as aforesaid has presently been brought before a court of law as provided by the laws of Botswana for justice to take its course. It is, and should be, a matter of grave concern to any member of the Botswana community who has a conscience that:
So far, there has been no credible explanation from government to rebut “alarming information placed before the public by the private media”. He says all such information in the public domain, particularly in respect of the John Kalafatis shooting, “suggests and points strongly to a case of pre-meditated murder, or in the very least, a killing devoid of any justification provided under the Constitution of Botswana”.
Kgosi Kgafela says, “The laws of Botswana are crystal clear on what should happen in a homicide case. The suspect is to be arrested, taken into police custody and, in due course, brought before a Court of law for the homicide to be thoroughly interrogated and justice to be done. No one, not even security forces, enjoy special immunity against these laws. While this law inevitably applies in respect to any other person suspected of being responsible for causing the death of another, the same is evidently not taking place in respect of the assailants of Mr John Kalafatis or those responsible for the 8 other killings of citizens that have taken place.”
Kgosi Kgafela, who is also a human rights lawyer, observed that, “as a result, a state of affairs unknown to Botswana values has been created whereby certain members of our society presently stand above the law. This essentially spells a Constitutional crisis unprecedented in gravity and implications for the future”.
The Bakgatla regent joined lawyers Dick Bayford and Duma Boko in rejecting “any suggestion of a lengthy irrelevant procedure of an inquest which can only serve to delay the inevitable Constitutional process at great costs to this nation. Every day delayed in bringing the suspects before the Law Courts has the effect of tearing us apart as a nation through fear, mistrust, and enormous anxiety: you name it all. Every day delayed brings about fresh waves of unnecessary embarrassment to our leadership and this nation. The delay cannot be allowed.
In the letter, Kgosi Kgafela proposes that, “we should hold our first meeting” on Tuesday 16th June at six in the evening at the Kgotla in Tlokweng where Kgosi Kgolo Puso Gaborone sits. Kgosi Puso Gaborone is the Chairman of The House of Chiefs”.
The Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) this week added their voice to the groundswell of condemnation against state sponsored extra-judicial killings. BOCONGO Chief Executive Officer, Mosweu Simane, issued a press statement on Friday condemning the recent murder of John Kalafatis.
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