Mothibamele says he found himself in a strange position when he anxiously faced the magistrate in a Hukuntsi court waiting to be set free of charges of illegal possession of a government trophy.
He spoke to Mmegi after a ruling of no case to answer was passed by Magistrate Johnny Baakile. He, his wife Ellen and sister Itireleng had been charged with unlawful possession of a government trophy contrary to Section 71 of the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act. One of Botswana's longest serving Members of Parliament politics (1969 to 1999), told Mmegi that he had opted to represent himself because he knew he was innocent right from the beginning. "I had to personally convince the court that I had no case to answer," he said.
"In my final submissions, the issues were if indeed the subject matter was a government trophy in violation of the law and the trophy was unlawfully obtained, if I was found in possession of the said trophy and there was knowledge or reasonable grounds to believe that the said trophy was unlawfully obtained by the person who transferred the same to me."
According to him, he based his arguments on the fact that persons other than himself were accused of killing an animal without a licence and obtained the animal's meat and other parts. "I was never part of the commission of either the crime or the hunting team and I never obtained any portion of the meat," he told Mmegi.
"What is so disturbing from the prosecution is that there was a feast after the said kill at one of hunters' homes, not my home.
Mothibamele said the hunters disposed of the meat at his home where they also offered him the thighs of the animal when they realised that the police were after them.
"The prosecution also had difficulties telling the court what the meat was for and the prosecutor could not say who was offered the meat - my wife or me," he said. "It is very frustrating that the prosecution should waste my time and government resources like that. Someone must have cooked up the whole thing." The prosecutor in this matter was Inspector Poloko Oteng of the Botswana Police Service.
According to Mothibamele, the fourth witness mislead the court by saying the meat was sold to the former MP and his wife, contradicting the first witness, Onkgethetse Lesimane, and second witness, a certain Mponang, as well as the investigating officer.
Significantly, there was no affidavit tendered to show that a forensic examination of the horns or thighs of the animal was ever conducted to ascertain that the animal was indeed a gemsbok n accordance with Section 71 of the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act, Cap 38:01.
"Besides, it was not my meat and it was not found in my possession," Mothibamele said. "And no matter how vigorously the prosecution may have said it was a trophy, without evidence to that effect having been led, it did not pass the test." In the aftermath of the case, Mothibamele wants to resuscitate his political career and focus on helping the people of Kgalagadi North.
"I did not finish what I set out to accomplish 10 years ago," he says, adding that he is confident that he will emerge successful from the primaries in Hukuntsi.