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Committee to discuss merging Local,Botswana Police

Staff Writer
A committee to determine the aftermath of the merging of the Local and Botswana Police in as far as how it will affect the justice system in the Kgotla will soon be set up.

Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse said his ministry is in the process of setting up such a committee in response to Kgosi Seikgotheng Ntshombiwa of Xhomo village in the Boteti Sub District who had decried the removal of local police officers in the Kgotla saying it has affected their daily operations.

In an interview Seretse said though they felt enough consultation was done when the decision was made there is confusion surrounding the whole process and that calls for an urgent need to meet. He said some Dikgosi are not comfortable with new developments, like delegating people to flog convicted people. Recently Seretse said in an interview with Botswana Television that in the absence of police officers, Kgosi can delegate one of his men to flog offenders. "But it looks like most Dikgosi are not comfortable with the arrangement and that is why we want to meet them to establish what they want," Seretse said.  The minister added that there is nothing wrong with delegating such people because just like Kgosi, they would be protected as provided for in the customary court law. Seretse said there are not necessarily looking at putting the final agreement in the legislation but that business at Dikgotla will just be run based on what the committee agree on. "But where the agreement calls for legislation we will consider going that route," Seretse said. The committee will comprise of chiefs and local government officers.  In protest at the removal of the police officers, Ntshombiwa said there are some cases that are pending because of their absence. Ntshombiwa said currently he has more than five cases dating from November, of people who were convicted and sentenced to flogging but there is no one available who can administer the corporal punishment. Ntshombiwa said he heard Seretse saying on TV that Dikgosi can delegate people to administer corporal punishment, the same practice that they condemned in Mochudi. But Ntshombiwa

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wondered how that is going to be possible. "Police officers were protected by the law to flog wrong doers but now who is going to protect the people we are going to delegate," Ntshombiwa wondered.

He said currently there is noise about Kgosi Kgafela of Mochudi using mophato to whip people and at the same time Seretse says other Dikgosi should do the same. He also complained about lack of communication when a decision was made to remove police officers from dikgotla. "We only heard on radio that there are going to be merged with the Botswana police," he said. He said they have now adopted a wait and see attitude, as they do not know what to do. Ntshombiwa said they have also asked for help from their superiors in Rakops but they did not get any help, as their seniors are also just as confused about the whole issue.

The deputy Tribal Administrator in the Ministry of Local Government, Tumelo Seboko said flogging only applies to criminal cases and that such cases can only be heard when a prosecutor, who in this case is a police officer, represents the state. He said the responsibility of seeing to it that offenders are punished lies with the prosecutor.

He added that in the absence of local police officers at the Kgotla, prosecutors would be in a position to know where to take the person for flogging. He said besides the Kgotla convicted people can also be flogged at prisons.

Seboko said Kgosi can however handle civil cases without the help of police officers. "Officers can only be there for security reasons," Seboko said.

Seboko also said there was communication when the decision to merge was made. He said when the issue started the then Minister of Local Government, Margaret Nasha called all the members of the house of chiefs for a meeting and the expectation was that they would inform the chiefs in their respective areas.



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