Mmegi Online :: Huge crowd forces police to deny access to High Court
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Last Updated
Wednesday 19 September 2018, 14:07 pm.
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Huge crowd forces police to deny access to High Court

The huge crowd that turned up at the Gaborone High Court last Friday to hear the verdict in the case in which the Attorney General wanted to overturn amendments to Parliament’s Standing Orders forced the police to bar some people, including journalists from entering the courtroom.
By Tsaone Basimanebotlhe Tue 11 Nov 2014, 16:24 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Huge crowd forces police to deny access to High Court








For the first time, the police demanded press cards from the media and no journalist was allowed to enter the courtroom if there was no seat. 

The police maintained that they did not want the public or media to sit on the floor of the court. Though a partition had been opened to use two courtrooms, this was not enough to contain the huge crowd.

Police told the public and some journalists who could not have access to the court that the judges said everyone inside court should be seated. “It is packed inside.

There is nowhere you can sit.

We are here to do what we have been told. As for you journalists, you know very well that you could have at least come an hour before the case starts,” one police officer said.

However this did not go down well with some people who kept on pushing court doors and making noise to disturb court proceedings.

A reporter with Echo newspaper, Kealeboga Botshabelo said he was disappointed by the way police treated journalists.  “This is an issue of public interest and it talks about the constitution of this country. People expect and they want to know the judgement and analysis of each media house.

For the media to be blocked from going inside the court is not good. This

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shows a disregard to the noble job we are doing as media,” Botshabelo said.

Press Council chairman Tshireletso Motlogelwa said he was also disappointed by the way journalists were denied access to cover such an important matter. “Courts should be easily accessible. They could have made arrangements for media and communicated to them.

I do not understand why a journalist should produce a press card in court when he/she comes to cover a case. It is time for judges and the media to sit down and engage on how we can access information in courts,” Motlogelwa said. 

He said issues touching on the constitution are very serious and that is why the public came in large numbers to hear the case and it was disappointing to find more people outside than inside.

Motlogelwa said the court session could have been held outside for the benefit of the public.

He said this would also benefit the court since it will show that justice is being done.  The judges dismissed the Attorney General’s case on the basis that parliamentary privilege (Standing Orders) are intra vires, therefore the court has no jurisdiction to enquire on the lawful internal processes of the National Assembly.  “Otherwise the court will be intruding into the affairs of another branch of government,” the judges said.

 

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