Saturday, October 23, 2021

Lt. Gen. Segokgo challenges reinstatement of BDF’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

In clear cut terms, the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force Lt. Gen. Placid Segokgo has made known his dissatisfaction with Justice Zein Kebonang’s judgment that ordered the reinstatement of Thabang Tlhapisang and Kozondu Uariua, well known as ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

Information gathered by this publication shows that Segokgo who was almost jailed late last year after he was found in contempt of a court order to reinstate the duo, filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal. In the Notice, Segokgo says he feels hard done by the judgment, and says his wish is for the Court of Appeal to upend the decision.

Amongst other things, the commander says the Judge went astray when he ordered the reinstatement of the duo as their relationship went further than a normal friendship between an officer and an enlisted member of the BDF.

The state’s main point of contention is the fact that any intimate relationship under a certain clause within the BDF fraternization policy is prohibited. According to the appeal, Kebonang should have admitted that the duo was not appealing the Commander’s decision to sack them, but had brought a review application, resulting in the court’s failure to properly come up with a fitting dissimilarity between the disciplinary hearings and the decision by Segokgo to fire them.

“The court failed to realise and appreciate that the Commander dismissed the pair for their convictions. The fraternization policy was only an issue before the disciplinary proceedings.  The Commander’s decision to dismiss the duo and the disciplinary proceedings are two separate proceedings founded on two different enabling provisions of law,” read part of the appeal.

The State further argues that Segokgo acted legally in dismissing the duo: “Apart from the names, the ‘show cause’ letter issued to the couple was identical when in fact each letter had made reference to different provisions and regulations regarding each.”

Although the duo is back at work, they filed a notice of opposition on January 23 and their case will be heard this Wednesday.

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