The Court of Appeal is being compelled to pronounce the constitutionality of the death penalty which is provided for by section 203 of the Penal Code of the laws of Botswana.
In a case that has a potential to do away with the death sentence, the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) would lead arguments before a panel of judges of the Appeal Court on the 29th of this Month in support of the said sentence while Kgosiitsile Ngakayagae would oppose the application on behalf of a murder convict, Rodney Alfred Masoko who is cited in the case.
The DPP intends to challenge Justice Tshepo Motswagole’s judgment in which he outlawed the death sentence when handling Masoko’s case in October 2013. When passing the judgment, Motswagole argued that section 203 contravened several sections of the constitution and sentenced Masoko to life imprisonment for murdering his girlfriend in cold blood.
Although the said section prescribes death penalty for murder crimes which were committed without extenuating circumstances, Motswagole maintained that the practice was inhumane and could be evoked at the judge’s discretion.
The DPP however wants the court of appeal to force Motswagole to make a fresh judgment on the matter and evoke section 203 as there were no extenuating circumstances in Masoko’s case.
The court of appeal’s matter comes at a time when three death row in -mates are yet to appear before the same court with desperate pleas for their lives. Patrick Gabaakanye was sentenced to death by Justice Walia in July 2014 while co-accused, Daniel Semi and Gaolatlhe Thusang were given the same capital sentence by Justice Leburu last year.
When passing the judgment, Justice Leburu interpreted section 203 differently from Justice Motswagole. Leburu’s understanding is that the court is at large to probe extenuating or mitigating and or aggravating factors in the absence of which, the death sentence has to be meted out.
The case that was before Leburu, involved three murder accused, Semi and Thusang who were hired by a certain Agisanyang Motukwa to kill his father because he believed he was bewitching him. Although Leburu sentenced the hired men to death, he found the witchcraft believe, to be an extenuating circumstance and gave Motukwa a lesser sentence.
The decision by the court of appeal would therefore have a direct impact on appeal cases of the three men who are waiting in prison to be “hanged by their necks until they die.”
Meanwhile the court is to decide whether to reduce a 25 year jail sentence of a man who brutally murdered his pregnant girlfriend in 2008. Mokgweetsi Mosope was sentenced by the high court to what he feels is an excessive sentence and has engaged the service of an attorney to persuade the court to reduce his sentence to a maximum of 20 years jail term instead.
However the Public Prosecution maintains that the 25 years imprisonment was warranted in this case looking at the fact that he attacked a defenceless woman and also killed his unborn child during the brutal attack. According to the Prosecution, Masoko killed the girlfriend following a heated argument over his continued failure to sleep at her house. Following the quarrel, he went away and on his return, the girlfriend who did not know he was holding a murder weapon invited him to bed. Instead he turned on her and stabbed her with a knife multiple times. Mosope admitted that he killed the girlfriend in a spate of anger.
THE STATUS QUO Premeditated murder in Botswana is punishable by death through hanging. However the courts can exercise discretion where there are extenuating circumstances and can deliver a non-capital punishment of a long term imprisonment. In most cases the offenders are given a maximum of 25 years jail term.
Other crimes that attract the same sentence include treason, espionage and military offences.
The treason crimes include attempting to overthrow the government, attempting to forcibly change the law or government policies, attempting to usurp the state’s executive power, assisting the enemy in wartime, assisting anyone who threatens the security of the state or instigating invasion of the state .
Some of the military offences that could attract death sentence include aiding the enemy, cowardly behaviour, mutiny involving violence or threat of violence and failure to suppress mutiny with the intent to assist the enemy.
However, the military offence is not a matter of the judicial court and rather that of the military and the state President who is the commander of the armed forces by statute. The President can actually prescribe the manner of execution for the members of the Botswana Defence Force offenders.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.