The Minister of Justice, Defense and Security has taken stiff measures to protect judicial officers from being attacked by dangerous criminals, especially at magistrate courts by instructing both the police and the prisons officers to always hand cuff criminal suspects during court sessions.
The instruction comes after magistrates from Molepolole and Gaborone were recently assaulted by charged suspected criminals during court proceedings.
In a brief interview with The Telegraph, minister Ramadeluka Seretse said his ministry will do everything in their power to ensure that judicial officers are always protected and secured while there are in the courts.
“As the minister, I am not going to tolerate a situation whereby suspected criminals will either attack or threaten judicial officers for no apparent reasons,” he said.
Seretse said that handcuffing suspects while in the dock is not a violation of their rights. He did not disclose when the new court room practice will resume.
“I would not say exactly when that will be implemented because that is an operational issue.”
He warned suspects that they should always conduct themselves in a responsible manner.
However, some magistrates and prosecutors, who spoke to The Telegraph on condition of not being named, said that “our courts are really not safe, especially when dangerous suspects are being tried”.
They said the issue of safety has not been a priority to government. They believe that government could be waiting for judicial officer to be killed during a court session before necessary steps are taken.
They indicated that they have long proposed that members of the public and suspects should be either screened or searched when they go in to the court room, but nothing is being done.
Meanwhile the first incident happened when Molepolole chief magistrate, Ngandu Dlamini, was attacked by one of the most dangerous criminals, Botsi Kefitile.
The second was when a charged suspect, Onneile Mmipi, assaulted Broadhurst magistrate, Gennai Jansen, with a glass full of water during court proceedings.