Sunday, September 20, 2020

Twist and turns abound in Workers Union court case

Deputy Commissioner of Botswana Police Service, Kenneth Kapinga, has confirmed that he had advised the police to charge Motseothata Gopane and the National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union under Section 59 of the Penal code for having published arbitrary publication and section 115 of the Electoral Act, which deals with campaign materials adverting.

According to him, he had decided to do that because he felt that the charge would be “appropriate”.

Last Thursday, the National Amalgamated Local , Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union, as well as Motseothatta Gopane, withdrew a case in which they wanted Lobatse High Court judge David Newman to interdict the Commissioner of Botswana Police and the Commander of Botswana Defence Force from in any way hindering applicants from distributing pamphlets they had intended to distribute after realization that the issue had been overtaken by events as elections, which the phamphlets were intended for, were just hours away and judgment had not been passed.

The withdrawal of the case was confirmed by Tshiamo Rantao who was representing the Union together with Duma Boko.

Rantao said that they now intend to bring the case to the court under the normal procedure of filling cases in the High Court as they feel that what the BDF and BPS had done was a serious breach of democracy.

“We are certainly continuing with the case even after the elections because we feel that what they are doing is a serious breach of freedom of speech,” he said.

On the other hand, Gopane has confirmed that police have already warned him that they will charge him but that he has not yet received the charges.
“Yes I have been warned but as we talk, I have not yet received the charges,” he said.

Gopane added that as far as he is concerned he had done nothing wrong and will defend himself.
“I have done nothing wrong and will defend myself against the charges,” he said.

The Union, he said, is fully behind him as well.

The pamphlet carried pictures of prominent BDP people whom the Union said were “enemies of democracy”.
These were: Momphati Merafhe, who is contesting Mahalapye West constituency, Jacob Nkate of Ngami constituency, Neo Moroka of Kgalagadi South, Peter Siele of Ngwaketsi South, Phandu Skelemani of Francistown East, Kentse Rammidi of Kanye North constituency, Edwin Batshu of Nkange, Kavis Kario of Selebe Phikwe West and Shaw Kgathi of Bobirwa constituency.

Loosely translated the message on the posters says: ‘do not vote for these men because they are enemies of our democracy’.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.