On 26 May 2009, Minister Ramadeluka Seretse convened a press conference that was essentially aimed at addressing the recent extrajudicial killings. Media reports about the press conference indicate that the minister did not provide answers to the many questions surrounding the recent upward surge of killings by the security forces. The key focus for the minister remains the exoneration of the Presidency whilst avoiding all the pertinent questions on account of ongoing investigations.
The selective commentary by the Minister smacks of a clandestine motive geared at concealing the truth and preempting the investigations. The key question surrounding all the shootings since April 2009, when Minister Seretse assumed political control of the national security agencies, is whether or not orders have been issued to shoot any suspect. In the most recent case of John Kalafatis, there is compelling circumstantial evidence that suggests the issuance of an order to kill. The late Kalafatis made a statement to an attorney claiming that there was an order for him to be killed, only to be gunned down by a hail of bullets by unidentified security agents. Why is Minister Seretse passionately pleading that no death orders have been issued before investigations are complete?
Secondly, the Minister has stated that contrary to reports by the Commissioner of Police and the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Kalafatis was a fugitive being sought by the police. Effectively, Minister Seretse contends that both the Commander and the Commissioner are deliberately misleading the nation and casts doubt on both their integrity and the offices they hold. If indeed, the Commissioner of Police, and or the BDF Commander are unable to truthfully discharge their duties, what action does the Minister plan to take? The Botswana Police and the BDF are directly under the supervision of Minister Seretse. It is inappropriate for the Minister to publicly suggest that his subordinates are not discharging their duties effectively and yet not offer any solution. We challenge the Minister to discipline those who hold high offices in his security agencies but choose to deliberately mislead the public. The likelihood is that both the Commissioner and the Commander were indeed not aware of the plan to execute Kalafatis. Minister Seretse now wants to provide a cover up by compelling the Police to change their statement and accept responsibility for the state’s atrocious actions.
We do not accept that the Police are capable of mounting a credible investigation into these murders. They are implicated in some of the cases and are the most convenient scapegoats for the misdeeds of the political leadership. As is the norm in most modern democracies, there is need to have an independent body with sufficient credibility to mount investigations and provide the nation with answers. Previous investigations by the Police into the extrajudicial killings have not been made public and there is no eagerness on their part to allay the fears of the nation.
Finally, we wish to draw the attention of the public to the fact that during the high number of fatal shootings of civilians by the BDF in the 1980s, the commander of the BDF at the time was Mompati Merafe while his deputy was Ian Khama Seretse Khama and the head of the BDF legal department was Ramadeluka Seretse. Today, the same trio is in control of the Office of the President and the killing of civilians has resurfaced. While this may be a coincidence, the nation must be vigilant in demanding answers from the generals who now run our lives.
Seikise Lotty Manyapetsa
BCP Youth League