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Masisi comes face to face with first clemency appeal

Death row inmate Uyapo Poloko’s  lawyers are currently putting a last ditch attempt to save their client as his fate now lies in the hands of President Mokgweetsi Masisi who can either grant him clemency or send him to the gallows.

Poloko was sentenced to death three years ago after being found guilty of strangling an Asian woman to death and attempting to murder the woman’s husband. Poloko’s lawyer Tshekiso Thekiso of Tshekiso Ditiro & Jani Legal Practice confirmed that they have applied for clemency and are currently seeking “certain information from the President”. He could not be drawn into discussing details of the clemency application for his client. 

This will be Masisi’s first death penalty assignment-an issue that attracts domestic and international attention. According to the Constitution of Botswana, upon receiving application for clemency, the President is compelled to convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy. The committee comprises of the Vice-President or a Minister appointed by the President, the Attorney-General and a medical practitioner registered in Botswana.

Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi did not confirm whether an application from Poloko’s lawyers reached President Masisi’s office. He rather referred this publication to Attorney General Abram Keetshabe, a member of the Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy as when the Committee is called to meet by the President. Keetshabe did not divulge any information regarding Poloko’s clemency or whether there has been a Committee held for Poloko’s clemency yet, rather reminding that “only the president can take a decision to pardon a death row inmate.”

In his last discussions on death penalty, local lawyer and a death penalty abolitionist Martin Dingake maintained that the exercise of clemency is vague, unjust and non-transparent-bound to prejudice the death-row inmates at the expense of the so called exclusive presidential discretion. Dingake who represented a high profile death-row inmate Patrick ‘Raselepe’ Gabaakanye in 2016 was not given response for his clemency application and communication after his client was hanged.

Masisi’s predecessor Ian Khama left office a month after allowing the hanging of Joseph Tselayarona for the murder of his lover, Ngwanyanaotsile Keikanne and her three-year-old son, Miguel Keikanne back in 2010. Before handing the baton to Masisi on April 1 this year, Khama had rejected pleas for clemency from Tselayarona. Days before Tselayarona’s execution Khama made remarks at one of his farewell meetings in Palapye that he supports death penalty and would turn a deaf ear or blind eye to those who speak for murderers at the expense of the victims’ justice.

Before leaving office, Khama left Masisi with several death-row inmates most of which failed to convince the Court of Appeal to overrule their sentences. Former Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo last year December made an appointment for Matshidiso Boikanyo and Moabi Mabiletsa with the hangman for killing cab driver Vincent Mopipi by stabbing him 44 times in 2013. Also in December the Lobatse High Court sentenced Tshiamo Kgalalelo and Mmika Mpe to death for the murder of their white employer Reinette Vorster at Gantsi farms. Mooketsi Kgosibodiba is also on death-row for the murder of Benjamin Makobela back in 2012 at Makobo village.

In the history of death penalty in Botswana, no president has ever granted a death-row inmate clemency and Masisi is yet to continue the precedence set by his predecessors or reverse history. Khama has seen eight executions in his reign. His predecessor Festus Mogae allowed the execution of seven people. During his term, Ketumile Masire saw 15 people going to the gallows while the founding president and Ian’s father Seretse Khama approved the execution of 17 death row prisoners during his term.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
Balopi

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

22nd November 2021
BDF

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

22nd November 2021
VENSON MOITOI

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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