Thursday, August 6, 2020

Man sues State P22 million over alleged court death threats

FRANCISTOWN: Oteng Brown, a middle-aged man from Tati Siding village, 15 km from Francistown is suing the State P22 million in damages claiming that his life was endangered after he received death threats from a stranger at Francistown High Court. The case is before Francistown High Court Judge Matlhogonolo Phuthego.

The Attorney General is cited as (1st defendant) Francistown Central Police (2nd Defendant) and the Francistown High Court as (3rd Defendant). The fourth to the 11th defendants are government employees based at Francistown High Court and the 12th defendant is not a government employee.

According to his court papers, on the 15th of May 2019 the plaintiff (Brown) wrote a formal request to the Francistown High Court to use the Judicial Library for research purposes and was accepted. Sometimes in July 2019 while at the High Court, he received death threats from one Philip Gwaloba who threatened to shoot him with gun at the High Court parking lot. He claims two High Court employees were present during the incident. According to the plaintiff, Gwaloba made the threats accusing him of having an affair with his wife who is an employee of the Francistown High Court.The plaintiff says that he ignored Gwaloba and proceeded to the Judicial Library. Gwaloba followed him repeatedly uttering that he will shoot him to death.

Brown claims that during the fateful day, Francistown High Court workers and security guards including the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) agents gathered in front of the library and heard these numerous verbal threats.

However, the plaintiff then set calmly at a computer cubicle in the library as Gwaloba continued to utter death threats. As the threats worsened, he then requested a High Court Library worker to call the police through the government landline phone but she declined as she feared Gwaloba would harm her. Left with no option the library officer heeded his plea and called the police reporting the threat to kill incident. The security guards and DIS agents managed to restrain Gwaloba. After more than an hour the police arrived and found the plaintiff inside the library office and took him to Central Police Station. Upon arrival he found Gwaloba with his (Gwaloba’s) parents at the police station. Brown claims that before the police came to take him to the police station, the High Court employees who had been at the scene held a secret meeting in the library. He overheard them discussing that no one within them should acknowledge hearing numerous death threats as a way of protecting Gwaloba who is the husband of their colleague (name of woman withheld) The plaintiff further explains in the court papers that during interrogation at Central Police Station, Gwaloba said that he(Plaintiff) was having sexual intercourse with his wife.

He allegedly said these words in the presence of the High Court employees, police and his own parents. The plaintiff claims he was not afforded a fair hearing to narrate his story and claims that everyone at the police station was biased towards him. He said that after his intensive protest he was finally given a chance to explain the whole incident. The plaintiff said that he even gave the names of the High Court employees who were present during the threat to kill incident. They however all denied ever hearing the threat to kill words in front of the police. Brown also claims that no police statement was taken. He says that he involved the Assistant Station Commander at Central Police Station who identified himself as Khumalo. He was also of not much help to him. He claims that the Assistant Station Commander rejected his side of the story and his case was dismissed.

Helpless as he claims he was, on the 2nd of August 2019 he went to the High Court to collect his research which he had made using the computers at the Library on the 31 July 2019 but was further rejected and refused entry by the High Court employees. He was warned and cautioned for trespassing. He claims that his fundamental rights were trampled. He wrote a complainant to Central Police Station commander informing him that his rights were being contravened by the police, Francistown High Court and its employees. He further claims that the 4th to 11th defendants as government employees and citizens of this country entrusted with legal duty to uphold the written law, enabled the suspect to escape justice for offences chargeable by the penal code by furnishing untrue statements to the police.In the relief sought, the Brown prays that the Police and the Francistown High Court compensate him with P7 million each as his life was endangered.

He further seeks that eight government employees who are also the defendants compensate him P1 million each in that regard. He is further demanding that the police should prosecute Gwaloba(12th defendant) for a threat to kill charge. On the other hand the defendants have applied for an order to set aside the plaintiff writ of summons. They argue that the particulars of claims for damages are vague and lack armaments which are necessary to sustain any claim or action.

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Sunday Standard August 2 – 8

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 2 - 8, 2020.