PRECEDENT SET: Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow finds herself in an unfamiliar position of having to defend a matter involving a Ministry she is serving. The former Judge has decided not to argue the matter which she had originally won for her client in a P1.2 million award. Instead a different lawyer from her former law firm, Dow and Associates will take the podium against the Attorney General who is appealing the decision.
The Assistant Minister in the Ministry Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow found herself between a rock and a hard place as she was notified of the Attorney General’s intention to appeal a matter she won in 2012.
Dow will on Monday briefly appear before a judge in a case in which the government is appealing her 2012 victory after she had successfully sued government for P1.2 million in damages for her client’s hand injuries, which she sustained in 2000 after being beaten by a teacher at Kgari Sechele Senior Secondary School.
Although there is no legal prohibition for Dow to argue her case as a Minister, she has chosen not to do so – presumably to avoid conflict of interest and in respect of the office that she holds. Dow who is a Specially Elected Member of Parliament ceased to be active at her firm, Dow and Associates upon taking her new office at the Ministry Education and Skills Development but assists behind the scenes according to sources.
Dow is expected to take a few minutes addressing the court over her painful recusal from the case of Bogadi Ramatlapeng against the Attorney General (AG) in which she believed and probably still believes in. The case will be argued by another lawyer at her firm instead.
In the grounds of appeal for the Monday case, the Attorney General argues that “the learned judge erred in coming to the conclusion that the respondent is entitled to the damages of 400 000.00 for pain and suffering. The award by trial court is palpable excessive or clearly disproportionate to the circumstances of this case”.
Attorney General further argues that the judge in his judgement misdirected himself in coming to the conclusion that the defendants are liable to plaintiff’s claim of P700 000.00 for permanent injury and disfigurement and P100 000.00 for future medical expenses. “The awarded damages are high and unreasonable,” reads AG’s court papers.
According to the Attorney General, the court “erred in concluding that the Appellants were liable without hearing expert testimony”.
Arguing her case then, Dow told judge Lot Moroka that she had been disappointed at the way the AG’s had been handling the case by not appearing in court or even honouring scheduled meetings.
She cited dates of failed meetings and court appearances from as far back as 2010 thanks to the defendant’s absence. Even after failure to respond to all these calls, the AG’s insisted that Ramatlapeng’s injury was not a result of that beating, but rather a fall that she sustained in 1998 as a result of her epilepsy.
Explaining her case to the court, Ramatlapeng had told court how she suffered intimidation and mistreatment from some of her teachers who did not even want to sympathise with her even though they understood her situation.
The injury, which was inflicted to an already epileptic Ramatlapeng led to inactiveness of her right hand because her fingers had curled to form a fist. A fracture on the thumb had also been discovered. With her injured right hand she can only support her left hand, but still feels pain on her right shoulder if she tries to use it.
Ramatlapeng continuously shed tears when she told court that she was mistreated and robbed of a bright future because she performed poorly at school that year, as no consideration was made for her situation. She had to learn to use her left hand at that crucial time of sitting for her final examinations.
Dow argued that even if AGs refused liability for the injury on the grounds that it was a result of a fall, it would still be irresponsible of Keetshabe to hit her on the same hand that she had sustained an injury on when falling. The lawyer also argued that the injury was permanent and had robbed Ramatlapeng of a decent livelihood.
Judge Moroka granted Ramatlapeng the P1.2 million compensation sought and 10% interest of the amount per annum.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.