RAPE COVER-UP

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  • Evidence shows how Sidney Pilane bribed a rape victim to drop charges
  •  The bribe contravenes criminal law
  •  Police close case ‘for lack of evidence’
  •  Why men rape
  •  Power, priviledge, politics and rape

LAWRENCE SERETSE

The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president Sidney Pilane may possibly face charges of conspiracy to defeat justice and interference with witnesses following an audio recording detailing how he coerced a rape victim to accept bribe money to withdraw charges against Gaborone City Mayor, Kagiso Thutlwe.

In May 2018, BMD activist Sesame Nakedi filed a police case accusing Mayor Thutlwe of rape. The gist of allegations contained in the police report indicated that Nakedi had agreed to a sexual encounter with her boyfriend but had not agreed to a threesome with Thutlwe.  In a police statement given to The Botswana Gazette, Nakedi recorded that she had engaged in a consensual liaison with her boyfriend and did not know how the Mayor had ended up forcing himself on her that fateful night. The Mayor has refuted the allegations and stating that Nakedi engaged in oral sex with him,  he subsequently recanted on this version of events and gave an outright denial of the incident.

The public outcry at the allegations threw the opposition political fraternity into a frenzy and reports subsequently emerged that BMD president Pilane bought the victims silence and forced Nakedi to withdraw the rape allegations. Nakedi has infomred this publication that she did not at any point withdraw the charges and that the media reports to that effect were inaccurate.

As a result of the trauma from the rape, from July to August 2018, Nakedi was admitted at Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital suffering from depression compounded by the political pressure and cyber bullying she was subjected to on social media, she revealed in an interview.

In September 2018 this publication met with Nakedi who opened up for the first time on the painful experience she went through in her quest for justice and counselling.

Six months after the alleged incident, on 18 December 2018, Nakedi received a report from the police notifying her that the rape case she lodged against the Mayor had been “closed due to insufficient evidence”, despite her having availed the Botswana Police Service potentially incriminating WhatsApp messages, that were leaked and widely circulated on the social media.  In the WhatsApp messages seen by this publication the Mayor confirms to her that he should have sought her consent prior to engaging in sexual conduct and further acknowledges that he ought to have asked her permission to engage in sexual acts without protection.

Nakedi has revealed that the incident of rape was only the beginning of the trauma that impacted heavily on her life and budding political career. Evidence in possession of The Botswana Gazette reveals the intense pressure put on her to withdraw the charges against the Mayor, at a time when she was still reeling from post-traumatic stress and emotionally vulnerable. This publication has in its possession a June 21, 2018 audio recording placing Pilane at the centre of coercion that forced Nakedi to accept a cash payment as “settlement” and withdraw the rape charges she had laid against the Mayor.

In the audio recording the evidently shaken and depressed Nakedi can be heard telling Pilane that she expected him to help her and protect her as she regarded him as a father figure but was disappointed that he instead, “chose politics over me, I am so sad and alone Mr P, you guys decided to take a side, you are like a whole father to me.”

Pilane, a prominent politician and advocate can be heard in the audio recording telling her that he had P20 000 in his possession for her to accept and also to tell the police that they have reconciled the issue. Rape allegations under the laws of Botswana cannot be “reconciled.”

“We will need gore re e go bona mapodise ka statement sele, re re bagaetsho re buisantse, we are now trying to put aside in the productive interests of the women. Yaanong kgang e ke kopa go e tlogela, re bo re tla kwano ke tla go go neela madi a, ha pele gaga Kagiso, ele cash I am not putting it in my bank account, it’s in my safe,” Pilane is heard saying.

Nakedi interjects, “I am so sad…” but Pilane does not allow her to finish her sentence he chips in loudly, “You give up so much when you are the subject, you become objective when you fight for others and when you are not the subject,” Pilane is heard lecturing Nakedi on his distorted version of the principles of fighting for women rights.

Nakedi replies to Pilane that as an advocate of social justice and women’s rights she will be deemed a hypocrite if she accepts Pilane’s offer.  “What will I represent if I don’t represent the fight of women against gender-based violence, rape and patriarchy, if I don’t represent that Mr P, I will have to go back at the drawing back and find who I really am.” (sic)

Her efforts to engage Pilane on why victims never report rape crime fell on deaf ears as the BMD president dismissed and diverted the topic instead offering to help her fight for her rights.

In a cry for help the victim is heard appealing to Pilane, “What about my trauma, what about the past few weeks, kana Kagiso tormented me I haven’t slept for three weeks.”

“All of that is your fault because you refused to listen to me. If you had chosen to listen to me there will be no trauma but you must get help, you must get counselling,” Pilane interjected, adding that, “eh… a little of this money, part of it will help you get proper counselling.”

Nakedi continues protest to Pilane that, ‘Kagiso doesn’t learn, he will just say comrade Kago, ga ke gane ke mo thubeditse, mare o monate, nkanne ke dirile jang?’

Pilane cuts her short again claiming that, “because he has a sense of humour ke mokgatla, I would also say the same thing.”

Nakedi: No, no but Mr P it hurts! (sobs)

Pilane: No, le wena you enjoyed it I saw the SMS where you said that, and it’s okay, its humour. Let me tell you what the man is doing, it’s his nature, he is humorous and trying to lighten up the atmosphere. (sic)

While the victim sobs in the background Pilane goes at length to explain how Bakgatla are humorous people, in an effort to convince Nakedi to laugh off the statements she claims the Mayor uttered to her before the rape.

Nakedi: “And he actually means all these things he says, (like) ga ke gane I raped her”

Pilane then adds, “of course he does, you should find it fluttering Sasa, oh yes, it’s not many women who get told that ….”

Pilane continues by saying that he was aware as he had not been told that she fell pregnant, went through abortion and that he would have advised Thutlwe to give her cash for counselling.

In a typical show of abuse of dominant power, Pilane informs Nakedi that if she proceeds with the complaint against the Mayor she will cause herself further harm. The clearly confused Nakedi begs Pilane to explain what the feminist movement she represents, her attorney Kgosi Ngakaagae who was representing her on the civil lawsuit, would think of her should she accept the cash and withdraw the charges.

Pilane with his usual self-assuredness can be heard in the audio proclaiming that he is the best lawyer in the country and goes on to call attorney Ngakaagae an opportunist looking for publicity by representing her on rape allegations against the Mayor.

“First you should never have gone to Kgosi Ngakaagae, he wants to use you. He is doing it for himself, he likes to be in the limelight, and he likes to be in the papers and uses you to make himself famous,” Pilane claims to Nakedi that unlike his colleague he is doing it for her.

In the recording Nakedi can be heard asking Pilane what UDC president Duma Boko thought about the matter.

In his response Pilane said that Boko had said he agreed with his (Pilane) approach towards the matter and that Boko stayed away from it to avoid a clash between the BNF and the BMD over the matter.

When the allegations against the Mayor became public knowledge the BNF  issued a public statement apologizing for their silence over the rape scandal against their high profile member. The BMD had also issued a statement in which the party, under the presidency of Pilane, did not want to interfere with a party member’s personal issues.

In spite of the clearly traumatic experience she was being subjected to, Nakedi asked Pilane why her rape case had to be turned into a political issue and that she was hoping the party would allow the police to proceed with their investigations. In a terse response Pilane replied that critics will say BMD wanted Thutlwe’s constituency and the party may have pushed her to press charges against the Mayor.  Pilane emphasized that he wanted the issue to die down in which she interjected saying “You cannot fix rape.”

At the close of the conversation the young activist informs Pilane that she will let him know when the police call. While she has not denied accepting the money to pay for her counselling sessions, Nakedi is adamant that she never withdrew the matter before the police.

Legal experts who listened to the audio opined that it is against the law to either pay someone to drop charges or change their testimony, or to accept money to do so.

They also pointed out that the victim does not have the final say on whether to drop charges- in a criminal case, once the victim has made a complaint, he or is a witness, not a party to the case. The state is the prosecuting party and makes the decision whether to go forward or not but only if the court allows for a withdrawal of the charges on reasons to be given.

Section 120 of the penal code states that any person who; conspires with any other to do anything to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in order to obstruct the due course of justice or prevents any person lawfully boud to appear and give evidence as a witness from so appearing and giving evidence, or endeavours to do so or in any interferes or knowingly prevents the execution of any legal process, civil or criminal is guilty of an offense and is liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Thutlwe and Pilane did not respond to questions sent last week concerning the recording and the conspiracy to silence a rape victim into abandoning the criminal charges against the Mayor for cash.

LISTEN TO EXCERPTS OF THE AUDIO RECORDING ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE