FRANCISTOWN: A headman of records at Seroto ward in Tonota is facing a legal conundrum after he allegedly ordered a woman to be corporally punished contrary to the Botswana Customary Courts Act.
The Headman, Lesitamang Molebedi, appeared in Court on Tuesday for facts reading.
In law, when facts are read to an accused person, it means that the person has already pleaded guilty to an offence.
However, the facts could not be read to the accused after the presiding Magistrate Thabang Chokwe who was holding fort for Chief Magistrate Mareledi Dipate told Inspector Kenneth Edward that the matter could not proceed due to its severity.
“May this matter be called in a month’s time in order for the Chief Magistrate who is currently indisposed to preside over it,” said Chokwe.
Meanwhile, the Station Commander of Tonota police Oteng Ngada told Mmegi that Molebedi is facing a charge of ordering a woman to be flogged.
Section 18 (Punishments) of the Botswana Customary Courts Act reads: “(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (2), (3) and (4) and section 21 and to the provisions of any other law for the time being in force a customary court may sentence a convicted person to a fine, imprisonment, corporal punishment or any combination of such
“(2) No customary court shall sentence any female or any person who is, in the opinion of the Court, of the age of 40 years or above to corporal punishment”.
Molebedi’s fate now lies in the hands of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Eric Molale, who is empowered by the Customary Courts Act to suspend or dismiss members of the Customary Courts.
Section 9 (Suspension and dismissal of members reads):“The Minister may dismiss or suspend for any period he may deem fit any member of a customary court who appears to have abused his power or to be unworthy or incapable of exercising the same justly, or for other sufficient reason.
On such dismissal or for the period of his suspension the member shall be disqualified from exercising any powers or jurisdiction as a member of the court unless he is expressly reinstated by the Minister.”
Facts will be read to Molebedi-who is currently executing his official duties-on April 6.