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Famous SA prosecutor speaks against social media regulation

Former South African prosecutor Gerrie Nel has spoken against regulation of social media, indicating that Government should instead try to figure out how to use it to prove that crime has been committed.

Recently Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi confirmed to this publication that Government plans to adopt an aggressive law to counter cyber-bullying especially on social media.  According to the Minister the proposed cybercrime law is aimed at addressing a number of concerns emanating from the abuse of social media by some users. Cyber-bullying, which is considered the use of the Internet, cell phones, or other technology to spread hurtful or embarrassing pictures and messages about other people is said to be among the top five offenses most experienced by young adults.

“There have been few criminal matters as far the use of social media is concerned except slander and cimen injuria, which could be dealt with under the civil law. From criminal perspective there is no need to regulate except on issues of real big crime matters such as murder, corruption and fraud,” said Nel. “Instead we should consider taking advantage of social media to use it to prove that people have committed crimes. The more people use the social media and traverse the law the better for the prosecutor. The debate should be how we can use social media to prove that the crime has been committed.”

Nel was in Botswana on Thursday, to participate in the Social Media and Cyber Security Symposium organised by e-Learning Botswana-Hlanganani ICT. Nel led the prosecution in the trial of former national police commissioner and Interpol president Jackie Selebi, who was convicted of corruption in 2010 and also received attention during the Oscar Pistorious case as the prosecutor. Nel said social media could come in handy in investigations of real crime matters such as corruption, murder and fraud as it can help evidence be obtained easily when those crimes were being planned and committed.

“Facebook is the best tool for obtaining evidence. It is easy to study the suspect’s activities on Facebook, and know their friends, and other people they associate with.” The tenacious prosecutor said during the Pistorious case, whatsApp conversations were used as evidence before the case, something which he indicated as having been helpful. Nel spoke in support of rather coming up with ways in which social media can be used to provide more evidence in criminal cases. He is against the state regulating the usage of social media by controlling what people write and post on social media.

“I am against ‘let’s limit and let’s control’ social media. To me freedom of speech is important and should not be regulated. Let’s use what is in the cyber space to investigate people who commit crimes. We should make laws that adapt to technology not that oppose it,” he said.
He however admitted that the digital space has made it easier for people to commit crime but argues that in the same manner the digital space has helped to easily investigate crime. Nel said he is against the hacking of private individuals’ social media accounts except in a situation where it is the only means to explore to have that kind of evidence.

BROADCASTING OF HIGH PROFILE CASES

Nel said he initially was unsure about the importance of broadcasting court proceedings especially in high profile cases that generate interest from the large section of the society.  He said initially in the Pistorious case, he opposed the broadcasting of the court proceedings but concurred with media houses that pointed out that the constitution requires all cases to be held in public courts where everyone can have access to. “They argued that if a person in Pretoria can walk in to watch proceedings of the court, those who are not in Pretoria may also want to watch the case,” he said.

Nel said broadcasting of court proceedings promotes transparency and accountability, and also allows citizens to form an opinion on the matter either by criticizing or praising. In South Africa, parliament proceedings are also broadcasted live.

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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