Monday, May 17, 2021

Member wants dikgosi protected just like judges, magistrates

It is unclear whether dikgosi have, like magistrates, ever been physically attacked while handling cases. Whatever the case may be, one member of Ntlo ya Dikgosi, Kgosi Kgosidialwa Moalosi, has expressed anxiety about a situation where “dikgosi are not provided with security when presiding over cases or passing judgements as is the case with magistrates and judges.”

The government’s response was that such protection is not provided because “in most cases, they [dikgosi] preside over cases or pass judgements that do not warrant provision of security.” In future though, the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security will explore the possibility of providing security at dikgotla when dikgosi are presiding over cases. There is no question of making such exploration with regard to magistrates, some of whom have been attacked by accused persons in the course of trials. This is an issue that magistrates have expressed grave concern about. A metal detector at the new Gaborone High Court might give an indication of how the future will look in terms of security for presiding officers at both magistrate and high courts.

Security was on the mind of another member of Ntlo ya Dikgosi, Kgosi Kgomotso Boiditswe, who complained, through a question, that there are no security officers in customary courts. If it was any consolation at all, the house learnt that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has started an exercise to identify areas in which security companies can be engaged as well as those that will require the employment of night watchmen.

The resulting information will be used to prioritise the engagement of security officers countries or watchmen such that ultimately, all customary courts in the country have either form of security. Boiditswe also lamented about the delay of cases at magistrates’ courts leading to loss of evidence and scuttles such cases. However, dikgosithemselves are deeply complicit in the collapse of some cases. Through another question, Boiditswe sought to know the number of livestock theft cases that have been dismissed at Francistown and Gaborone courts of appeal and the reasons for such dismissal.

Between April 2014 and June 2015, 197 such cases in Francistown and 21 cases in Gaborone have been dismissed. The reasons range from procedure not being followed to defective charge sheets to dikgosi themselves passing judgements which are above their warrant or jurisdiction. The latter occurs as a result of inadequate judicial training of dikgosi. This problem is being addressed through a training programme for dikgosi at the Botswana Public Service College.

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