Police unlawfully assaulted a minor for “no particular reason”
Government has been ordered to pay 1.5 million pula as compensation to a student (name withheld) who suffered bodily damage following a vicious assault on him by police officers.
WeekendPost has gathered that the 20 year old who is a student at the University of Botswana was wrongfully and viciously assaulted by Tlokweng Police Officers at the charge office – and in full view of other on duty officers.
It is alluded that the minor and friends were arrested for allegedly consuming alcohol in a prohibited area but upon arrival at the police station the minor was violently assaulted without no justification.
According to court papers seen by this publication “on or about the 21st September 2013 at Tlokweng Police Station charge room, a member of Tlokweng Police Force, acting within the course and scope of their employment and the control of the Commissioner of Police, wrongfully and unlawfully assaulted the minor “for no particular reason.”
It is understood that at that time, the police officers were acting within the course and scope of their employment, and, as a result of the vicious, brutal and excessive assault the minor sustained injuries which required an emergency surgical operation.
The assault, the papers posit was carried out excessively and viciously on the plaintiff in full view of other on duty officers present in the charge room and the plaintiff’s friends who had been brought to the charge room as well on account of the same offence.
According to the papers, the minor was awaiting to receive a fine or charge at the Police station where he was suddenly attacked with open hands (brutal punches and slaps) to his face and kicks all over his body and such assault was without provocation.
“The Minor was further thrown to the floor, where the officer struck the plaintiffs head repeatedly on the ground until the plaintiff was unconscious.”
The assault was carried out right in front of on looking duty officers who did not intervene to stop the officer and protect the minor from getting the beating of his life.
“In the premises, members of the Tlokweng Police Force had no good basis to assault the plaintiff in the manner which they did. No amount of justification can explain why such a brutal assault was meted against the plaintiff,” the court papers point out.
The minor sustained injuries leading to loss of memory, acute right extradural hermatoma, weakness on the right side of the body, swollen Lips, swollen head, celebral bleeding, left pupil unresponsive, numbness of the right leg, pain from the heap joint, itching of the operation scar, partial incapacity and loss of memory.
According to a medical report from Center of Neurology and Neurosurgery seen by this publication, the 20 year gentleman was seen for the first time on 17 October 2013. “There is history of assault and admission in PMH, where he was operated for right epidural bleed. At that time he had right hemiparesis-paralysed right limbs.”
“In January 2014 we did CT scan brain check-up which showed up posttraumatic changes with brain atrophy. The patient was counseled for his condition and he needs more time for recovering. Recently follow up does not show big progress. Still right hemiparesis persist,” a doctor highlighted in court papers.
Following the assault, it is understood that on or about 22nd September 2013, the plaintiff had to undergo an emergency brain surgery at Princess Marina Hospital.
Princess Marina Hospital also confirmed in their medical report that, the patient is known to them and “he was assaulted in September 2013 and sustained acute right extradural hematoma with right side weakness. He was admitted here on 22 September 2013, was discharged on 15 October 2013. An emergency neurosurgical operation was done on admission and he was afterwards admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) from 22 September 2013 to 24 September.”
Human rights organization Ditshwanelo also handed support to the client and wrote an intention to sue in terms of the State Proceedings (civil actions by or against government or public officers) to the Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme.
“Notice is hereby given that our client intends to bring an action for damages against the Minister of Defense, Justice and Security for physical injuries sustained and inflicted at the hands of his officers,” stated Ditshwanelo.
Court documents also stress that: “the officers owed the plaintiff a legal duty to protect him whilst in their custody, which duty the government breached when they allowed the minor to be assaulted by another officer in the presence of other on duty officers.”
The complainant who by virtue of being a minor thereby falling under the class of persons under disability is assisted by his mother Bosaeng Kerepile.
The plaintiff is a male minor, 2nd year Bachelor of Business Administration student at the University of Botswana and the assault has since negatively affected his studies as “he has further ceased attending school to allow him to rehabilitate and fully recover from the injuries sustained. He has also undergone thorough physiotherapy assessment at Thuso Rehabilitation Centre.”
The papers also state that despite lawful demands to remedy the assault the government have willfully or disregarded ignored the minor’s demands.
Before the court order, issued by Justice Dambe for the government to compensate the minor with P1.5 million, the plaintiff had averred that he suffered damages in the amount of P3 440 000.
The said amount was arrived at after considering unlawful assault (pain and suffering) at P500 000, humiliation and loss of dignity at P250 000, Medical expenses P200 000, permanent disfigurement and partial disability P150 000 as well as loss of earnings and estimated future and/or or potential earnings at P 2 340 000.
It is not the first time government is successfully sued, and thereby draining the tax payers’ coffers millions of money, for wrongful and unlawful assault, detention and arrest.
The minor was represented by Gaborone based renowned attorney Joram Matomela of JJ Matomela Attorneys.
The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”
The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.
The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.
Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.
Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.
Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.
Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.
“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.
According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.
“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.
Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.
“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.
For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.
According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.
Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against womenis taking the livesof women and girls everywhere.
Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.
These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.
“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women. Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.
GBV in Botswana
UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.
“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP
In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.
“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.
The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.