Prosecutors in the John Kalafatis murder case have called for the conviction of his killers, which carries a mandatory sentence of death penalty.
Botswana Defence Force officers Dzikamani Mothobi, Gotshosamang Sechele, Ronny Matako and Boitshoko Maifala are accused of shooting Kalafatis to death.
Representing the state before Judge David Newman, prosecutor Kabo Leinaeng on Friday parried the defence’s arguments, insisting from the on set the accused persons intended to kill Kalafatis.
“It is our submission that Mothobi and his team intended to cause the death of the deceased. The state led evidence direct from Costa Kalafatis to the effect that on the fateful night Mothobi told him that he and his team intended to cause the death of his elder brother and indeed as events unfolded John Kalafatis was killed by the accused persons,” argued Leinaeng, dismissing suggestions by the defence that Mothobi should not be linked to the offence because he did not shoot any bullet at the time of the incident.
“In military circles, junior officers take orders from the most senior officer available. It is not in dispute that Mothobi was in charge of the operation. He is the one who constituted the team, was the one who issued orders on what was to be done. He was one who was receiving and disseminating information or intelligence regarding the whereabouts of the deceased,” said Leinaeng.
For their part, the defence team said the death of Kalafatis was a result of mistaken belief, which they said is permissible in the eyes of law, insisting their clients’ actions were justifiable as they believed Kalafatis was armed at the time.
“My clients do not deny that they shot at the deceased and that as a result of the shooting he died. What they deny is that such shooting was intended to cause his death. Their evidence is that the deceased, who they had been informed was armed and reasonably believed that he was armed with a gun, made a movement with his left hand towards his back in a motion made by someone who was drawing a gun and that under that belief and fearing that indeed he was drawing a gun which he was going to use in a way that would put their lives in danger, they decided to open fire towards him, which resulted in him receiving fatal injuries,” argued Thabiso Tafila.
“It is with regard to this scenario that the four accused persons say that they cannot be held to have murdered the deceased,” he added, dismissing the state’s argument that Mothobi should be held accountable for the crime.
“In fact he did not in any way act in a manner which could even be held that he acted in common purpose and in concert with the other accused persons in prosecuting unlawful act to kill Kalafatis.”
Testifying before court some months ago, both the prosecution and the defence witnesses indicated that Mothobi was not carrying a firearm on the day and that he did not shoot John Kalafatis.
“It is also the evidence of the three other accused persons that when the shooting took place he (Mothobi) was at the car that they were using and that he came running to ask them to stop shooting which they did,” Tafila further argued, pleading with the court to completely acquit his client of the charges against him as “he did not physically shoot the deceased nor did he act in common purpose and in concert with the other accused persons.”
As for the other three accused, Tafila insisted they should also be acquitted of the crime, raising a mistake of fact, self-defence and justification in using force to effect arrest as the foundation for their release.
Newman is expected to deliver judgment on 1st June.