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Khama's sister defends her media complaint

Staff Writer
Jacqueline Khama, elder sister to President Ian Khama has said, through her lawyer, that she is asserting her right in dragging the Sunday Standard newspaper before the newly created Media Complaints Committee.

Parks Tafa has denied that his client is being used as a proxy by her brother to get even with the weekly. He said Jacqueline's complaint against the newspaper has nothing to do with the recent decision by President Khama to threaten and then withdraw from suing the Sunday Standard following a story the paper carried on the death of John Kalafatis.

"She is an individual and like every citizen, she has got rights that deserve to be protected by the law. He (President Khama) does not make decisions on her behalf," Tafa said. He stated that his client is concerned about a report by the Sunday Standard alleging that she was robbed in Ruretse by the late Kalafatis.  "She has never resided in Ruretse and she does not know Kalafatis," he said. He said that there was no connection between the aborted Khama lawsuit and the complaint Jacqueline has put before the complaints committee. Jacqueline wants the Media Complaints Committee to bar Sunday Standard editor, Outsa Mokone and reporter, Rueben Pitse from practicing as journalists.

Tafa said his client is not against freedom of expression and there is a corresponding obligation for the paper to respect other people's rights. "Journalists are not immune from this obligation. These are the people who give a bad name to the profession," said Tafa.

He criticised the Sunday Standard and accused its editors of being 'irresponsible' for publishing another story in which it was reported that the state had beefed-up security around Jacqueline following the death of Kalafatis. He said that the paper was given adequate time to correct its 'lie' but to date, it has not bothered to retract the story on the death of Kalafatis. "They cannot complain when she seeks redress," he said. He asserted that instead of

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tendering an apology, the paper is adopting a self-serving high-powered moral ground and accusing the legislature of targeting journalists. "Why can't they face the consequences of their actions," wondered Tafa.

Sunday Standard deputy editor, Spencer Mogapi said that they had a meeting with the President which resulted in the withdrawal of the threat to sue and their take was that they met the head of state in his capacity as head of the Khama family. He said he was surprised that another Khama family member has dragged them before the Media Complaints Committee over the same issue. "Khama has not returned to us to say the settlement has been set aside," said Mogapi.

He could not reveal whether or not the story in question had factual inaccuracies but pointed out that Jacqueline has never requested an apology from the paper. He said the paper is concerned that the issue had been brought before a committee chaired by a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist. "She should have taken it to the Press Council of Botswana," said Mogapi. Sunday Standard lawyer, Dick Bayford said that to the best of his knowledge, Mogapi and Mokone had a meeting with Khama and Director of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi where an agreement was made for the case to be dropped. Bayford said that although he respects Jacqueline's rights, what she was alluding to in her complaint is a letter of demand by President Khama. He stated that even if the story in question had inaccuracies, it caused no harm. "Even if it were found that she never resided at Ruretse or was never robbed by Kalafatis, there is no harm occasioned to her," he said. "It's not each and every falsity that will warrant action," he added.



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