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Judicial CP - July 2006
Mmegi, Gaborone, 6 July 2006
Anti-illegal immigrant operation starts
By Onalenna Modikwa
SELEBI PHIKWE: The Departments of Immigration, Labour and Home Affairs and the police and soldiers have started a joint operation to round up illegal immigrants in Selebi-Phikwe and surrounding villages and cattle-posts and lands. The operation is scheduled to take two days.
It started yesterday morning with a house to house search and roadblocks to vet passengers. The law enforcement officers even went from office to office in search of illegal immigrants.
The station commander Isaiah Makala stated that those found to have violated immigration and labour laws will get four strokes in the buttocks before they are deported. He said the law has been amended to flog such offenders at the Customary Court. Last year over 300 immigrants were rounded up in Selebi-Phikwe and deported to their countries. It has been established that many farm owners employ illegal immigrants hence such operations are extended to cattle-posts.
Mmegi, Gaborone, 10 July 2006
The Kgotla: Cradle of Botswana's Democracy
By Gale Ngakane
FRANCISTOWN: It is not called the cradle of Botswana's democracy for nothing because the customary court, an open-air affair, is where men and women - especially senior citizens of all persuasions meet to unravel society's conundrums.
Society's challenges might come in the form of court cases. Legend has it that in one of those court cases, a young man was adamantly denying responsibility for impregnating a woman. It got to a point where the grey-haired were left incessantly scratching their scalps, unsure as to how to come up with a convincing argument to convict the young man.
After what seemed like an eternity, an old man who sat at the periphery of the gathering thought it ripe for him to chip in and in a tired raspy voice said: "Can the father of the child please stand up?" The young man who was sitting next to the complainant, holding the child in question, shot up like the Discovery spaceship at its launch. "So, why did you take us from pillar to post when you always knew that you are the father?" the old man barked, leaving the young man bemused. His protestations did not bear any fruit because consensus was that the young man stood up voluntarily. He knew what he was doing. And the verdict: Guilty as charged.
That story flashes through my mind as I approach the gate to Donga Customary Court offices. There is an open and vast space between the gate and the offices. The offices and the space are enclosed in a hedge. Initially, I thought people sat on the open space between the offices and the gate, but quickly dismissed the idea as there were no trees or even man-made structures to provide a shade.
However, the mystery continues because on reaching the office blocks and sitting on one of the benches provided for the visitors, nothing indicated that the court was in session. Doors open and shut as customary court police officials and office workers, speaking in hushed tones, come in and out of the offices. They mingle with the crowd most of whom I assume have come for cases. Upon my whispered enquiry, a woman sitting next to me on the bench whispers back and points in the direction of one of the doors: "You can go in there. That is where cases are held."
The door is aptly inscribed COURT PRESIDENT and after a few raps on the door, a voice from within says: "Come in!" There are no other people in there except the court president, or kgosi, who introduces himself as Harmony Moyo. Dressed in a chequered khaki safari shirt and trousers, Kgosi Moyo is paging through the bible and I assume that must be where he gets divine inspiration when he presides over cases. As it is about lunch hour, I assume he will be presiding over more cases in the afternoon and when I enquire about that he responds in the affirmative. "But where are you conducting the cases?" I ask confusedly. "In here. I will call you in when sessions resume," he says.
Indeed at 2pm, a woman dressed in a German print pinafore arrives with a brood of children in tow. She barely sits on a bench when two other women arrive with a young man. The story of the young man who denied paternity re-occupies my mind as I sense another paternity case in the offing. As if acting on a cue, the court clerk opens Moyo's door and calls out the three women and the young man. She also beckons to me.
Inside the courtroom, the woman in a German print sits at the other end with the four children she had brought along. The other two women - one, a young woman with flowing braids tied with a scarf, and the other, matronly and bespectacled and wearing a shawl - sit with the young man at the other end. There are no witnesses and no audience as is the case with court sessions - either customary or otherwise.
As soon as the family stands up to go, a young man is brought in. He was tried in the morning for assaulting his girlfriend. He is sentenced to corporal punishment. I excuse myself, not wanting to be witness to the beating. A bald-headed man comes into the courtroom holding two strong (probably Mophane) lashes. The door closes behind him and the beating starts - four strokes. As to why he presides over the cases in camera, Moyo says they are in the process of erecting a leobo within the compound where the court cases would be held. "But even though we hold the cases inside this room, people are welcome to come in. They should not fear anything. This is an open court," he says.
Ngami Times, Maun, 14 July 2006
Razor man lashed for theft
A Botshabelo man, 36, has received lashes at the customary court for stealing razor blades from the Shoprite supermarket. Mbere Maboto was said in court to have entered the supermarket this month and stolen the blades, valued at P12.75.
He was seen by a security guard, who stopped him and found that the blades had been placed in a pocket and had not been paid for. Maboto was charged with common theft. Kgosi Mathiba Moremi said stealing "such small things at of his age" was a serious matter. He advised him to use his hands and mind in order to help himself. The accused said in mitigation that he suffered from migraine. Moremi sentenced Maboto to six strokes and advised him to see a doctor about the migraine headaches.
Ngami Times, Maun, 21 July 2006
Malawian gets five strokes for stealing polony
By Keagisitswe Dioka
It wasn't an easy escape for a 31-year-old Malawian, Joseph Banda, who was caught stealing sliced French polony from Shoprite Supermarket in Maun last week. He was taken to a customary court to face charges of common theft. The court heard that Banda allegedly entered the shop with an intention of stealing. He then stole sliced polony valued at P6.90. Banda pleaded guilty to the charge of theft.
In his mitigation before the sentence, the accused told Chief Labanye Meno that he is a Malawian national and his parents were not in Botswana. He pleaded with the court to be lenient with him, as he is looking after an elderly woman including a minor. He was sentenced to five strokes.
Ngami Times, Maun, 28 July 2006
Five lashes for resisting arrest
A man who resisted arrest earned himself five strokes of the cane and six months in prison, wholly suspended, at the Maun customary court this week. Hani Ngonda, 24, of New Town, is said to have run away from the police when they tried to arrest on June 26 for allegedly misbehaving in a combi taxi.
A police officer, Keabetswe Saudu, he tried to arrest Ngonda after her had allegedly ill- treated a passenger - "he made four passengers sit on a seat meant for three and one passenger complained. Ngonda insulted him," Saudu told the court. He ran off and the police searched for Ngonda at the taxi rank but he was nowhere to be found.
By the late afternoon of June 26, he was "found idling by Spar supermarket", and when he saw the police calling him, he ran away and climbed into one Baleleki Sekao's car. "My colleague and I traced the car and fortunately managed to stop the driver opposite Delta Medical Centre. We caught Ngonda and took him to the police station." He was charged with two offences, resisting arrest and common nuisance. The senior chief's representative, Kgosi Charles Letsholathebe, asked Ngonda why he ran away from the police. "I did not know it was a crime. Besides I'm scared of being handcuffed," he said.
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