Journalists, Audience Allege Signal Jamming at Serowe Kgotla Meeting

  •  DISS says it prioritises national security in all its operations
  • Leaders of Balwelakgosi allegedly arrested and beaten


People attending the controversial Kgotla meeting in Serowe on Saturday reported instances of signal jamming that resulted in significant disruptions in communication.

Among those complaining was the Midweek Sun, a sister publication of the Botswana Guardian, which revealed on Saturday that its livestream of the event was compromised by the disruptions.

The Midweek Sun reported on their page: “Balwelakgosi were dispersed at the main kgotla. The leadership of the movement has been arrested along with some elderly protesters. Our publication could not livestream as the signal was jammed around the Serowe Kgotla.”

The following day, on Sunday, Segaetsho Garekwe, who is a former spokesman of former president Festus Mogae, also hinted at broader issues, saying they have been “experiencing some network issues”.

Approached for comment, the spokesman of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS), Edward Robert, responded: “The issues you are raising border on operational matters and I am not in a position to proffer any comment on the matter.

An offence 

“However, you have to note that in all its operations, the DIS prioritises national security. We place the country before all of us.”

Use of phone jammers is an offence under the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Act. The alleged incident in Serowe has raised concerns about the lengths to which authorities can go to control flow of information in the name of maintaining order.

It has also sparked debate about the balance between national security and the right to free communication. At a press conference on Sunday, the leader of the Balwelakgosi alleged that he and others were arrested, beaten and held without blankets in a cell all night.