The three Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officers who were convicted of killing John Kalafatis will trade their brown prison jumpsuits for green military tunics after they were freed following a presidential pardon shrouded in secrecy.
President Ian Khama last week rounded up a chapter of pampering and special treatments for murder convicts whose prison cells were virtually gilded cages, by sticking out his finger at the judiciary.
From their first day in court right up to their last day behind bars the trio was given treatment fit for heroes.
While murder accused are usually frog marched into the courtroom from the back of police vans in leg shackles, the trio’s first appearance in court raised eye brows when they were freed to roam outside court and ferried back to their holding cells in a Hyundai Accent chauffeured by a DIS colleague.
The Botswana Defence Force paid their legal bill and even engaged a crack criminal lawyer, Senior Advocate Hellens, who was once South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma’s legal advisor during his rape trial.
After they were convicted, the trio was still on full salary and kept all their benefits. Army Commander, Tebogo Masire, told a press conference last July that the BDF would support the convicted army officers and their families in whatever way possible.
President Khama rounded up the special treatment last week when he singled out the trio for pardoning after they had served only 11 months of their sentences which went up to 11 years.
The trio, who kept their jobs while in prison, is expected to return to the barracks.