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1000 likes, 1000 comments equals P100 000 fine

Had Phagenyane Phage made his tribalistic “joke” by means of a computer or computer system a few months from now, he would have attracted the wrath of clause 22 under the proposed Cybercrime and Computer related Crimes Act and would be facing a possible two years in prison and a P40 000 fine!

This is how serious Minister of Justice Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi’s proposed law looks from plain view. The only difference is that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) activist made the controversial statement at a political rally – the price he is paying now is rebuke and ridicule. He would probably escape because he is not on social media, especially facebook. The specific clause reads: “A person who, by means of a computer or a computer system, insults another person on the basis of race, colour, descent, nationality, ethnic origin, tribe or religion commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P40 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.”

Mr Shine Namane of Lentswe La Batswapong through a statement in part expressed thus: “The specific utterances were “… ko ga Mmangwato ha go thokafete kgosi, ha gonwe re hira Motswapong gore atle go lela, a bidikame go dira bohutsana mo lwapeng leo…” We find Mr. Phagenyana’ remarks dehumanising, irresponsible, insensitive, divisive and infringing on the constitution of the Republic of Botswana, especially that they were uttered by a politician who expects Batswapong to vote for him or his party.

We place on record that Batswapong are self-respecting and a dignified community who will not allow themselves to be bought or paraded by anybody or tribe for that matter to create a scenery at anybody’s funeral or event.  We find the utterances in question offensive and toxic to the political landscape, peace and tranquillity of this great country.  It is without doubt that Batswapong have been injured by such utterances.”

Kgathi’s proposed law which looks destined to receive support from across the political divide is going to make life very difficult for a number of social media commentators. In the spirit of this law Phage’s “joke” could be interpreted as ‘Racist xenophobic motivated insult’.  There is general displeasure at Phage’s choice of joke at the Umbrella for Democratic Party (UDC) rally in Molepolole and his party has engaged Lentswe La Batswapong to apologise.

Back to the full might of the Cybercrime and Computer related crimes Act, “A person who, by means of a computer or computer system discloses or publishes a private sexual photograph or film without the consent of the person who appears in the photograph or film, and with the intention of causing that person distress, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P40 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both. The law captures this behavior as “Revenge Pornography”.  

The proposed law is far reaching, “A person who, by means of a computer or computer system – produces racist or xenophobic material; offers or makes available racist or xenophobic material; and distributes or transmits racist and xenophobic material commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P40 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.”

The Cybercrime and Computer Related Crime Act also tries to shield children from stalkers; “A person, who by means of a computer or computer system, communicates with a person who is, or who the accused believes is – under the age of 18 years, for purposes of facilitating the commission of the offence of child pornography, or offences of prostitution, rape, or indecent assault under the Penal Code; under the age of 16 years, for purposes of facilitating commission of offences of abduction or kidnapping of that person under the Penal Code; or under the age of 16 years, for purposes of facilitating the commission of the offence of defilement or any sexual offence of that person under the Penal Code, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P100 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both.”  

Interestingly, the proposed law makes it clear that it shall not be a defence to a charge under this clause that the accused believed that “the person he or she was communicating with was at least 16 or 18 years of age, as the case may be, unless the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the person.”

The Cybercrime law also tackles child pornography. “A person who published child pornography or obscene material relating to children through computer or computer system; produces child pornography or obscene material relating to children for purposes of its publication through a computer or computer system; possess child pornography or obscene material relating to children in a computer or computer system or a computer data storage medium; publishes or causes to be published an advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows child pornography or obscene material relating to children through a computer or a computer system, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P100 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.”

Minister Kgathi’s law drafters have crafted what they term, “Offensive electronic communication”. Under this clause they write that, “A person who willfully, maliciously or repeatedly uses electronic communication of an offensive nature to disturb or attempt to disturb the peace, quiet or privacy of any person with no purpose to legitimate communication, whether or not a conversation ensues, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P20 000 or to imprisonment of a term not exceeding one year, or both.”

The law is also taking aim at Cyber stalking because it makes it an offence to “willfully, maliciously or repeatedly use electronic communication to harass another person, or make a threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or for the safety of his or her immediate family.” The offence attracts a fine of P20 000 or an imprisonment term not exceeding one year. Cyber harassment is also penalized with perpetrators facing a fine of P10 000 or an imprisonment term of six months or both.

The Cybercrime Act also carries huge fines and long term imprisonment proposal for offences such as cyber fraud (P100 000 or five years imprisonment or both) and cyber extortion (P20 000 or 10 years imprisonment or both). The Act criminalizes unauthorized disclosure of password or access code; damage to a computer or computer system; unlawful interception of data; unlawful possession of devices or data; unauthorized interference with a computer or computer system among other things.

Minister Kgathi’s proposed law is not forgiving to service providers as unlawful disclosure by service providers would attract hefty penalties, “A service provider who, without lawful authority, discloses – that an order under this Act has been made; any act done under an order; or any data collected or recorded under an order, commits an offence and is liable to a minimum fine of P1000 000 but not exceeding P5 000 000.”
Government wants this law to pass in November this year.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

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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
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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
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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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