The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) has not only cast aspersions on the independence of the judiciary but wonders what President Ian Khama knew of the murder of John Kalafatis in 2008.
This comes after Khama pardoned Ronney Matako, Gotshosamang Sechele and Boitshoko Maifala who were serving 11-year sentences for the one murder of an unarmed person, believed to be an extra-judicial one, which attracted unprecedented media coverage and gripped the nation with anxiety.
“Is the President privy to some information that the nation is not that, in his opinion, warranted the death of John Kalafatis without due process of the law, bearing in mind the fact that the┬á Constitution of Botswana┬á protects life except in execution of a sentence of a court?”
The law society’s Executive Secretary, Tebogo Moipolai, says the opinion of the Law Society is such that whilst the Presidential pardon may be correct on a conservative reading of the Constitution, it, however, casts great doubt on belief in the Rule of Law and Separation of Powers.
“What is the nation to read from the pardon? Can it not be read as an expression of lack of confidence in the judicial system? Can the pardon not be seen to reflect that the whole process of the charge, trial and appeal was a fa├ºade intended only to pay lip service to belief in the Rule of Law, transparency and Separation of Powers?” asks the LSB.
Further, the LSB wonders what the cost of the “fa├ºade” both in terms of money and time was.
The LSB says the pardon, the reasons which are shrouded in secrecy, also requires that the nation who are aware of the findings of the Courts, be brought into confidence as to why the pardon is justified.
“This is especially important given the clear and unequivocal findings of the High Court and Court of Appeal that John Kalafatis did┬ánot pose any imminent danger to his killers or anyone in his vicinity at the time he was killed,” says the LSB.
The law society says the development reinforces the need for enhanced dialogue on Constitutional Reform in Botswana.
“That the President is empowered by the Constitution to single-handedly change the outcome of a properly constituted and transparent court process should be a matter of grave concern to the nation,” regrets the LSB.