Yesterday, July 30 was exactly a year since the sudden death of Gomolemo ĹSir Gĺ Motswaledi. Yet there is still no sign of a report on what happened to the late Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, and the secretary general of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) or when the forensic report will be released, write Mmegi Staffers, TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE and THALEFANG CHARLES
A year into the death of Motswaledi, the question as to whether his accident was a hit on his life or another random fatal car crash still lingers.
Senior members of his party who held the viewpoint that Motswaledi died as a result of foul play answered this burning question over what happened to the popular politician just moments after his death.
This is the view that is held by many people to this day.
It is an open secret that the BMD and UDC led a public opinion through social media and at political rallies during the 2014 general election that some evil forces within government orchestrated Motswaledi’s death.
The forces of darkness, they say, were against the party leader and UDC secretary general’s beliefs and convictions.
At the height of the speculations and innuendos over his death, Botswana Police moved swiftly to dispel the rumours.
The police released a brief report and concluded, “Motswaledi’s death was a result of a road accident un-induced by any foul play.”
This was not enough to satisfy the opposition members who were adamant that their political icon was murdered for his political activism.
In fact, the UDC had engaged experts to establish the real cause of Motswaledi’s death.
Experts from South Africa were flown into the country to conduct the investigations.
The effort to establish the cause of Motswaledi’s death became a national exercise. At the invitation of the UDC, party followers and sympathisers were urged to finance the investigation.
A bank account was opened for donations to assist in payment of the investigations.
Many Batswana contributed money into the fund to finance the investigations.
In the interest of transparency, the report according to UDC leaders was to be made public.
Three weeks after Motswaledi’s death UDC president Duma Boko told a fully packed press conference at the BMD offices that preliminary findings by experts they engaged suggested that Motswaledi was murdered.
He said while they were yet to receive the full report the initial pathology report pointed to foul play as it indicated there was blunt force trauma that resulted in Motswaledi’s death.
The state had a hand in his murder, he said then.
“There can be no doubt that this was no normal death in a car, and it is fair that all concerned should be as thorough as Rre Motswaledi would have been in everything he did for us,” said Boko.
He also disclosed that the status of their approach to investigations remained that of parallel investigations, one carried by the normal channels of government police operations and the other by their own private investigators.
Owing to its thoroughness, the UDC process would take some time, he said.
“On our private side, our multi-disciplinary team, comprising pathology experts, forensic experts, ballistic specialists and satellite scientists continue to forage information, a process that will take time given the details involved and the need to marry the analysis into a single cohesive explanation.”
Boko’s ‘preliminary report’ that he never presented to the media – other than talking about it – further fuelled speculation over Motswaledi’s death.
Boko and the rest of his team appeared sincere and believable.
The mainstream media ran with the story. Motswaledi was killed by this brutal regime.
Many did not question the UDC president as it was still premature and more so that he was still grieving for ‘A Mighty Good Man’ as he had described Motswaledi in his eulogy.
It is perhaps the non-availability of the report that got so many people talking, particularly in government and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
When the issue of the report was raised, it sparked fury. Senior UDC members were even more furious.
The then Goodhope-Mabule parliamentary candidate, James Mathokgwane, who has since quit and joined SPEDU under a cloud of controversy, better expressed the outrage of the UDC against those demanding the report.
An able speaker, Mathokgwane told a well-attended UDC rally in Gaborone-West that those who are
“All those who go around speaking in tongues in political rallies demanding Motswaledi’s report should first tell us about the many cases of extra judicial murders. We are waiting for (Segametsi) Mogomotsi’s report. She disappeared mysteriously.
We also want to know why the state agents murdered (John) Kalafatis. We further want to know why the likes of Moithali Setlampoloka was killed. How could Setlampoloka disappear from police custody only to be found dead? Leave us alone with our report. We will release it in our own time,” said Mathokgwane.
Elections came and went. UDC managed to garner 17 seats in Parliament including Gaborone Central that Motswaledi was due to battle with Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president Dumelang Saleshando.
Phenyo Butale, who was viewed as a political lightweight easily won after a two-month campaign.
Post elections, UDC seems to have changed their tune whenever the issue of Motswaledi’s report is raised.
A few months after the polls, the new BMD president Ndaba Gaolathe was involved in a spat with some members of the public, who demanded the party release the report after contributing financially towards the engagement of investigators.
Gaolathe responded angrily and called on the members to furnish the party with proof so that they can be refunded.
During the BMD elective congress in Gantsi recently, Gaolathe made another bizarre comment in regards to the release of the report.
“The people you want answers from are those in government. They are the ones who should explain what happened to Motswaledi,” Gaolathe said.
It is a bizarre response from the team that had initially promised to lay bare details of Motswaledi’s death to the public.
The BMD president, however, disclosed that their ‘Investigation Team’ headed by lawyer Dick Bayford is still busy working on the case of Motswaledi’s death.
The Botswana Gazette quoted Gaolathe saying, “What I can confirm to you is that they have done the bulk of the work, but what they have gathered so far does not show what happened. Instead it has raised more questions than there were before.”
This is in contrast to an earlier statement by Boko that preliminary investigations point to murder.
“The investigating team will give you the report, not the UDC. We can only update you on how far they are with investigations,” Gaolathe further told the BMD congress.
There is no sign that the report will be released. In the absence of the report questions linger on, with no clarity on what really happened to Motswaledi on July 30, 2014.
One thing, however, is clear that the charge that Motswaledi was murdered has significantly diminished.
We were ready for closure – family
Motswaledi’s brother, Gape Motswaledi, told Mmegi that his family was ready for closure after receiving the police report about the fate of his brother, but they acceded to the UDC’s request to conduct independent investigations.
“We understand the UDC report on Motswaledi’s death is not yet complete. They keep on updating us on the progress and challenges they face. It must be understood that we gave them the permission to do so because they had worked with Gomolemo. We don’t want to disrupt them in their work. The UDC have to satisfy themselves on what they are doing,” Gape said.
He said their family is not part of the UDC investigations team, but they do not have a problem with their work.
He further said they understand that compiling reports that are done from different aspects is not an easy thing and it needs time to be completed.
“Batswana want answers on what could have killed my brother. I believe UDC should be given time to finish it (report) so that they cano9 give them proper answers,” he said.