Former president Ian Khama is demanding more than P1.5 million from one of his former associates, McDonald Peloetletse, for reputational damage following statements that Peloetletse recently made on social media about Khama allegedly stealing soldiers’ money, The Botswana Gazette has established.
Khama has instructed his lawyers, Ramalepa Attorneys, to sue Peloetletse over a Facebook post in which these allegations are made and where the former president is accused of stealing money that was meant to pay soldiers returning from a mission abroad by the United Nations (UN) in the early 1990s. Peloetletse is a former soldier who gained a reputation as Khama’s attack dog for using every opportunity on radio call-in programmes to defend Khama’s controversial presidency during which he often went on the offensive for the benefit of Khama. Khama’s lawyers say the Facebook statements were defamatory and a serious violation of Khama’s rights.
“I am a former soldier,” he posted on Facebook on April 26. “Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE (sic). In fact, sol–diers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors. He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.”
Peloetletse wet on to blame what he refers to as some of the troubles that currently engulf the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) on “Khama’s actions”. He wrote: “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and all the time. In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed so such disrespectful statement by Ian Khama.”
Khama’s lawyer says the statement was published with intent to injure his client in his personality, good name and dignity, and that the statement has damaged Khama’s good reputation.
“We have therefore been instructed by client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to client within three days of receipt of this letter – and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama,” the lawyer demands of Peloetletse.
“In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10 May 2021 (yesterday), our client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”
Khama wants Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our client dam–ages for defamation in the sum of P1,500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter,” the lawyer wrote to Peloetletse.
He warns that should Peloetletse fail to pay the damages demanded, Khama will take the matter to court.