President Ian Khama’s love for animals nearly cost him an eye this week when he had a bad encounter with a cheetah at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) barracks. The cheetah, which was being fed from its enclosure, is said to have jumped up at the president, who was close to it, and clawed him on the face. The attack is said to have happened very fast and caught the president and his bodyguard off guard as the president was looking down at the moment of the attack.
Confirming the incident, government spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay, described it as “a freak accident, but not an attack”. He said the cheetah attacked the president in its element of excitement. Ramsay also confirmed that indeed the abrasions and a plaster seen on the president’s face when he addressed Kgotla meetings in the Kgatleng area on Thursday were as a result of the attack on the president by a cheetah.
He described the injuries as minor wounds that were given minor medical attention. The president had to endure two stitches on his face and Ramsay said this was just meant to facilitate healing. Ramsay said, notwithstanding the wound, the president was in no danger as the cheetah was in an enclosure. He also said the president was not admitted to any hospital after the incident.
Ramsay said there was “no real security implications”. In his email response, Ramsay wrote, “The bodyguard was present but like I already said, this was just a freak accident”. Ramsay explained that the president, on occasion checks on the animals. When asked why the ‘freak accident’ was never announced to the public, Ramsay said since the incident was considered minor, no need was seen for a public statement. He emphasized that government had nothing to hide.