Thabo Masilo did not show up at the Village Magistrate as expected yesterday because he feared public scrutiny.
Masilo was expected to appear before court yesterday morning but after leaving the prison services buildings he refused to be transported to the court because police had not allowed him to cover his face. Masilo allegedly claimed fear of unsolicited photography from the media and allegations of abuse by Botswana Prison and Police Service officials.
Masilo’s attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae told court that Masilo had been used as a symbol of crime by the media. “Masilo is the only prisoner who is not allowed to cover his face outside court. This is wrong because he has the right to cover himself,” he said.
Appearing before Magistrate Goodwill Makofi, Ngakaagae said his client wanted to honour his court appearance but continued media attention had frustrated him. He said Masilo had been the topic of discussion in social media for the past three years but had the right to resist photography by covering
In the matter presented by Ngakaagae, there are also allegations that Masilo had been the victim of abuse by some members of Prison Services, adding that his client was mistreated and not given the same treatment as other prisoners.
Ngakaagae told court that Masilo would testify about this abuse and the State should also justify the harsh treatment meted on his client. He also submitted that it was the first time Masilo had failed to appear in court.
Ngakaagae also said if the same people who were supposed to protect him mistreated Masilo, the case would have to be taken to the High Court.
In response, state prosecutor, Christinah Ramokwena told court that the allegations presented by Ngakaagae were serious and that the matter would be investigated.
Makofi said the reasons advanced by Masilo’s lawyer were valid and their matter would be heard again on March 17, 2015.