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Batswana shun hangman post

Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security, Permanent Secretary Segakweng Tsiane has revealed that the Department of Prisons has struggled to recruit a hangman, leading to a backlog of prisoners in jail facing execution.

A hangman or executioner, also known as a "public executioner", is a person who officially inflicts capital punishment ordered by the state or other legal authority. Responding to a question by Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) member Polson Majaga as to what is the process and qualifications if any, for one to take the job.  Tsiane said there is no hangman in the country.   

“We have in the past advertised the position and it went for a long period of time without any interest from the public,” she said much to the amazement of the committee. The surprise from most of the people emanated from the fact that, there has been a belief that there is someone in Botswana doing the job.Majaga had argued that with the unemployment rate high in the country it was expected that the position would have attracted many applications.

She however could not state when the position was advertised and how long it took without interest from the public. Neither the qualification nor the qualities of the hangman were revealed- but one thing for sure is one need to be merciless.
Tsiane said with the public declining the position, the ministry has since reverted to the department of prison for assistance.

“We asked the prison department to capacitate us on the matter,” she said. As it is, the job is currently taken by the prison officers who have since expressed their desire to receive adequate counseling. “But they are offered counselling prior and after the execution. We have outsourced services from private companies and we believe it is sufficient,” Botswana Prison Service Deputy Commissioner Edna Balang responded to committee member Dithapelo Keorapetse who wanted to know if there is counselling offered to the prison officers carrying out the job.

Tsiane however could not tell the PAC how many people have been hanged since 2008. During President Festus Mogae nine people were executed, from 1966 – 1979, during Sir Seretse Khama's era, 17 people were executed. From 1981 – 1998, during Sir Ketumile Masire's era, 15 people were executed. It is however worth noting that most of the countries including India with over 1 billion population, the authorities still struggle to find a hangman, an indication that the job is shunned worldwide.

The executioner is usually presented with a warrant authorizing or ordering him to execute the sentence. The warrant protects the executioner from the charge of murder. While this task can be occasional in nature, it can be carried out in the line of more general duty by an officer of the court, the police, prison staff, or even the military.

Capital punishment has been a hot potato in the country with some quarters calling for its abolishment while others believes it is a deterrent measure. Still at prisons, it is said 69 infants are lodged there with their incarcerated mothers. Their mothers were convicted while pregnant while others arrived were jailed while their kids were still young. “They are given time to breastfeed and even given extra toiletry,” Balang said. Most infants are from the mothers who are party of the contested ex-refugees, who have now been detained following the lapse in their refugee status.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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