Sunday, May 28, 2023

Roles reversed as Dow takes witness stand

Former Lobatse High Court judge and current Gaborone lawyer, Unity Dow, on Wednesday told Gaborone Extension Two Senior Magistrate, Abigail Masawi, that she had one day in 2008, whilst she was still a judge, heard a serving prisoner who was appearing on an appeal before her complaining that he had been tortured by prison wardens.

Dow said this when giving evidence in a case in which Tefo Montshwari, who is serving a lengthy jail sentence, is accusing prison wardens, Mahutsana Bogotso, Ronald Kgaogano and Keorapetse Mmolai, of having tortured him whilst in jail.

Dow said that before the prisoner told her that he had been tortured, she had had to wait for the prisoner to come into the Court from the holding cells for sometime which made her ask Court employee, Lettie Alec, to go into the holding cells to see what was delaying the prisoner from entering the Court.

When Alec came back she said he told her that the prisoner had difficulty in walking. Finally she said the prisoner came into the Court walking very slowly and appeared to be in pain.

Dow further told the Court that though the prisoner looked to be in great pain, she did not see any physical injuries on him.

The former judge said that she then inquired after the prisoner’s health and that it was then that the prisoner told her that he had been assaulted by prison wardens.

Dow further said that it was on those circumstances that she ordered that he be assisted by a pro deo lawyer as he did not have a lawyer to investigate the allegations of torture against the wardens.

Asked by defense counsel, Enoch Mazonde, if the prisoner had told her why he was assaulted, Dow said that he did not tell her as she also did not ask him.

Dow also told the Court that the pro deo lawyer did not report back to her on the matter.
Montshwari had earlier on, when giving evidence in the matter, said that he was assaulted for a long time and that at one stage, another prisoner who was also assaulted was instructed to sexually penetrate him but could not do so as he was feeling pain from being assaulted.

He said that he was assaulted for having planned to escape from prison where he is serving lengthy sentences for various crimes, which include auto theft.


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