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Land wars in Kgatleng

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi

Kgatleng land owners this week lodged a complaint against the Ministry of Lands, Water and Sanitation Services, and Kgatleng Land Board to the Kgatleng Police Station on claims that they have violated the Town and Country Planning Act.

The petitioners have also delivered a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi over grievances with the land board.

Their grievances on the petition addressed to Masisi is informed by a directive taken at the 14th regular cabinet meeting held on May 2019 in which he authorized change of land use for the plot that was allocated for agricultural use.

The Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services (MLWS) revised the Development Control code accordingly.

However, Kgatleng Land Board has since moved to suspend the practice on the basis that Sub-Land Boards, which had implemented the directive, had no power to do so.

In principle, according to petitioners, government has moved to revoke all previously issued leases that reflect a change of land use on agricultural land especially where there are subdivisions that yield plot sizes lower than 1 hectare.

Kgatleng Land Board, according to petitioners, has indefinitely deferred and rejected all applications that pertain to change of land use and subdivision of agricultural land.

The land board also moved to refuse the approval of survey diagrams that pertain to change of land use and subdivision of agricultural land.

The concerned individuals stated that land authorities refuse the registration of title or rights that pertain to change of land use and subdivision of agricultural land,  halting businesses and developments that have infrastructure and employ hundreds even thousands of Batswana.

There are too many instances to quote of preferential treatment by Kgatleng Land Board, wherein they reject, revoke or they defer indefinitely applications and in the same breath approve similar or even identical applications. This practice of nepotism by the authorities of favoring one citizen over the other is unlawful and must be challenged to the fullest extent of the law,” reads the petition.

 

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Boko’s rivals plan new party

15th August 2022

Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.

According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign. 

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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