FRANCISTOWN: The Commissioner of Botswana Prison Service (BPS) Colonel Silas Motlalekgosi has been dragged into a case involving a former police officer alleged to have murdered his girlfriend.
Motlalekgosi unexpectedly found himself in Justice Lot Moroka’s court in absentia on Wednesday. Moroka was unhappy about a report that was compiled by a BPS psychologist, Leshoma Lebati.
Lebati has been offering counselling services to murder accused, Atlholang Mujanki, after the latter’s bail was revoked and he was incarcerated at the Francistown State Prison in June last year.
Mujanki is now awaiting judgement that will be delivered on March 23, 2021 in a case in which he allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Bokani Sox, in 2014 in Francistown.
Sox was a nurse at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital. The State alleges that in the wake of Bokani’s murder, Mujanki went to Pastor Milidzani Sox of the Breath of Life Church in Borolong where he also allegedly told the cleric that he killed Bokani and he wanted help since Bokani was haunting him. According to information that was revealed in court during trial, Pastor Sox later alerted the police about his encounter with Mujanki during consultation. The police later gave Pastor Sox a device that he surreptitiously used to record his conversation with Mujanki when Mujanki came to him for another consultation.
The translation of the audio from the device to Setswana and finally to English on paper may play a key role in determining whether or not Mujanki is guilty.
Meanwhile, in its official website, BPS prides itself as providing safer custodial care and correction to offenders through effective rehabilitation and reintegration of programmes for the protection of society.
Amongst its roles, BPS says it trains and rehabilitates prisoners and also assists in their reintegration into society.
While the services of BPS are somewhat indisputable, they however came into sharp focus after prosecutor Carols Diundu asked Lebati how he came to know that Mujanki had a previous conviction of malicious damage to property when he offered him rehabilitation services.
In response, Lebati said that he could not produce documentary evidence to prove that Mujanki had a previous conviction save to say that he took what Mujanki told him as the truth.
When Diundu told Lebati that he put it to him that he took the information that Mujanki told him at face value because he was sympathising with Mujanki, Lebati responded: “It is not true. I gave a report based on how the accused was emotionally feeling since he came to my office to ask for professional help.”
Moroka excoriated Lebati for what he said was the wrong manner in
Moroka categorically told Lebati that he had misgivings about his report, which he said was “wrong” because it included Mujanki’s previous conviction of malicious damage to property.
The judge said that Lebati should have concentrated on administering therapy to Mujanki and not about whether or not Mujanki had previous offences since Lebati was not a witness of fact.
“Mentioning the accused’s previous convictions in the report has the potential to make the court to take a biased position against the accused. The report should not preempt the decision of the court,” said Moroka worryingly, before he added that he would provisionally admit the report subject to advice from the prosecution and defence in final submissions.
After Diundu finished cross-examining Lebati, a still displeased Moroka told Mujanki’s attorney, Kgololesego Segabo and Diundu that part of his judgement that would be forwarded to Motlalekgosi will inform Motlalekgosi about procedures that BPS social workers and psychologists should adopt when writing reports that are going to be used in court after they offer therapy to people who are incarcerated.
“We don’t want BPS social workers and psychologists to contaminate cases that are still ongoing before court,” said Moroka.
The judge then turned his attention to Lebati before releasing him from the witness stand.
“I think that you still have a lot to learn about how to write reports that are going to be used in court. You should consult your superiors at work who are knowledgeable in law about the approach you should take when dealing with reports that are going to be used in court,” said Moroka.
At the end of the trial, Moroka then reminded Diundu that the prosecution did not call the person who was listening to the device and then transcribed its contents into Setswana to come and testify.
To that end, Moroka said that the translation expert who was sourced from the Customary Court of Appeal was the only one who came to court and told it that she translated the transcript that was already written in Setswana and a little bit of Ikalanga to English.
“There is no transcript in this matter. You should address this in your final submissions and also bear in mind the consequences thereof of the absence of this transcript. The absence of the transcript may be fatal to your case so you need to address this in your final submissions,” said the judge.