Thursday, December 3, 2020

Lawyer chronicles deplorable conditions in police cells

Attorney Joao Salbany of Bayford and Associates who was representing the Botswana Gazette newspaper in their recent scuffle with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) officers has painted a harrowing picture of the state of conditions in police cells.

Speaking in an interview on Friday, Salbany who was arrested by the DCEC officers for obstructing the course of justice while trying to represent his clients said there is need to do something about the condition of police holding cells. While he is used to seeing and hearing the commanding voice of police officers ordering his clients to take off their shoes and other necessities, this time around it was the turn for a practicing lawyer to see inside of the police cell.

DCEC officers on Wednesday had stormed into the Gazette premises insisting that they intend to conduct a search and subsequently confiscated a computer in relation to a story carried by the paper titled “DCEC foils Chitube, Reatile and Moumakwa’s alleged P150m 0il deals?”

“Police cells are stinking ….. Even a dog or a camel will not endure the condition,” Salbany said.
“Its suffocating, I had to find something wrap around my head… I could not endure the stinging smell coming from a toilet nearby with filthy water flowing by,” he added.

Asked why he was arrested, Salbany further explained that “The DCEC officers accused me of obstructing the course of justice. I tried to reason with them that they should follow the right procedure. But they were frustrated saying I was interfering with their investigations.”

He said that the warrant of arrest that was issued against his clients was ambiguous as it did not specify which computer the officers were supposed to confiscate.

“They said I was interfering and frustrating their investigations and as such I was liable for detention,” he said.
“I’m used to seeing my clients being in the holding cells but this time around it was me. For three hours I had my jacket covering my head in a futile attempt to parry the persistent smell,” he said. He said “My lawyer Duma Boko was not allowed to see me. He was kept waiting for an hour,” he said.

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The Telegraph December 2

Digital edition of The Telegraph, December 2, 2020.