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Sues for malicious prosecution

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

Former president Ian Khama’s two private bodyguards are reportedly considering suing the state after a case in which they were accused of being found in illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition was withdrawn by the Palapye Magistrate Court last week.

While the duo’s lawyer Tebogo Tladi of Ramalepa law firm could not shed light on the latest developments, he only confirmed that the case has been withdrawn. The Botswana Gazette has however been reliably informed that the duo is in the process of suing government for malicious prosecution.

“Yes, it is true the magistrate advised that the matter be withdrawn, and as for now, there is little to share,” Tladi told The Botswana Gazette.

When appearing last week at the Palapye Magistrate Court, the Prosecutor appealed for postponement on the basis that the prosecution was still awaiting legal advice from the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers; however the Defence strongly opposed the state’s request for the postponement.

After listening to the heads of arguments, Magistrate Reuben Sebetela ordered that the case be withdrawn because the State is not ready for prosecution and that the two accused persons be discharged immediately. Their names are Thato Refilwe Kopong and Mike Mareledi Maake.

Furthermore, the illegal firearm in question was discovered to be just a paintball gun which can easily be bought over the counter. The defence lawyer argued that paintball guns are not regarded as weapons as per Section 27 of the penal code. Contacted for comment, the Botswana Police Services (BPS), which was responsible for arresting and charging Khama’s bodyguards, said they were not in a position to comment on the matter.

They referred this publication to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

This publication wanted to know whether or not the police before charging the two, verified that indeed what they were carrying was a lethal firearm. The inquiry was based on the fact that the Police are experts in firearms and have a speacialised unit that deals with arms and ammunitions.

Maake and Kopong, former members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), were in July each charged with a single count of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition after they were said to have been found in possession of a ‘gun’ during the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) retreat in Palapye in January.

Their arrest later raised speculations of a possible plot to assassinate President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Prior to this incident, The Sunday Standard had reported that President Masisi’s security detail was on high alert after intercepting threats to assassinate him and DISS director Peter Magosi at the BDP retreat in Palapye.

Maake is currently an employee of Avante Security Services from which he is on secondment to Khama’s private security detail.
Avante has been linked to the channeling of money from a well known South African company with connections to mining elites whose interest is to finance President Masisi’s political opponents. Magosi previously revealed that Avante’s accounts had been frozen after the company came under investigation by the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) following reports that the company was used to ‘ship’ money for Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s BDP presidential bid.

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