Naledi Customary Court has dismissed a case in which controversial jazz musician, Thabang Garogwe was charged with common nuisance following an altercation with Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) CEO, Lesego Selotate, the complainant in March.
Naledi Customary Court President, Oageng Mosole dismissed the case on grounds that the accused did not in any way inconvenience the public. Before the case was dismissed, the State presented its witnesses who included the complainant himself Selotate, COSBOTS Licensing Manager Letlhogonolo Makwinja, COSBOTS Distribution Manager Onalenna Gaontebale and the investigating officer.
Mosole said the evidence presented by the witnesses was not sufficient enough for the defendant, Garogwe to answer for the charge against him.
Mosole, however revealed that the court was aware that Garogwe did something, but the fact that the COSBOTS leader, Selotate had agreed with the accused to let go of the matter in the first place, but later changed his mind raised suspicions.
“Selotate said he was not harmed in any way, nor was his phone damaged but he decided to go back on his agreement as an afterthought. This brings to question whether there are underlying and deeper issues between him and Garogwe,” Mosole said.
Mosole also said the court decided to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt despite the evidence that was put before it by the witnesses on the day.
According to an overall account from the witnesses, on the day The Kea Gana hitmaker is said to have on March 27, 2020 showed up at COSBOTS offices in Commerce Park in Gaborone and asked to see Selotate. After he was told that it was not possible for him to see the CEO because the latter was scheduled to attend another meeting, Garogwe with the aid of other unnamed artists is said to have locked the COSBOTS chief in the office and seized his mobile phone.
In an interview with Arts & Culture after the verdict ,Selotate said in the balance of facts he thought the decision was fine.
“Personally, I think
For his part, Garogwe said he was happy with the verdict because the court showed that he did not go to COSBOTS offices in March to fight, but to ask for his money.
At first my involvement as member of COSBOSTS was not highlighted in this case, but I got to reveal that in the 13 months that COSBOTS didn’t pay me, Selotate was getting paid every month. The struggles and atrocities were endured by me as an artist,” he said.
Garogwe said now that the case has been dismissed, he will continue fighting for artists’ rights.
“I am going to sit down and relax the day I see artists get the money they deserve without hustle. If an artist could cry before COVID-19 imagine now. Local artists are poor and they have nothing to show for their work besides fame,” he highlighted.
Garogwe said he was fighting to liberate artists to a state where they would be paid according. He said after the COSBOTS incident, he was paid P2, 000, which was not enough to sustain him for long. He encouraged other artists to be fearless because poverty was birthed by fear.
“If you are afraid to stand for your rights you will remain poor forever. It’s either you choose to have you name tarnished as you fight for your rights or being poor with a good reputation,” he said.