The government has revealed that President Mokgweetsi Masisi did not give instructions to members of the Botswana Police Service to put a stop to the December 3 Serowe Kgotla meeting . Rather, government posits, the police used a proclamation in the President's name to disperse those who had gathered for the meeting.
On the said date in Serowe, the police represented by the Special Support Group, soldiers, as well as intelligence officers, came in their numbers to stop Bangwato, led by Seretse Peter Khama, from using the Serowe main kgotla. The armed forces were dressed up, ready to fight, armed with guns, tear gas, whips, and armoured vehicles surrounding Serowe Kgotla.
It was reported then that Kgosi Serogola Seretse, through the armed forces, barred Bangwato from using the Kgotla. Responding to a question in Parliament yesterday, Minister of Defence and Security Kagiso Mmusi said the process of dispersing people through a proclamation is provided for under the laws of Botswana and there has been numerous use of a proclamation in the name of the President in the past. “In terms of Section 77 of the Penal Code Cap. 08:01 any police officer of the rank of Sub Inspector or above who has an apprehension that a riot may occur, may make or cause to be proclaimed in the President’s name, commanding persons so assembled to disperse peacefully within a time frame he/she would have given. Should the assembled people refuse to heed the command, Section 78 thereof allows for the use of force to disperse them,” Mmusi said. Mmusi was responding to Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Tumisang Healy's questions as to what instructions were given to members of the Botswana police force in Serowe and why police officers said that Masisi sent them to disperse people at the Serowe Kgotla. Healy also wanted the minister to give examples of incidents where people were dispersed in the name of the President. Mmusi said some examples of such incidents where the police used a proclamation in the President’s name include the Segametsi Riot and other multiple student strikes at the University of Botswana. He said the most recent riot was in 2021 when people assembled unlawfully at the Broadhurst Police Station following the arrest of Thuso Tiego. “It is to be known that it is within the mandate of the Botswana Police Service to attend to any incident and/or event which in their view has the potential to breach peace and to take whatever steps they may deem necessary in response thereto,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, No 2 District Officer Commanding, Senior Superintendent Paul Oketsang told this publication in Serowe that they had barred morafe because Kgosi Serogola Seretse had instructed them. “Kgosi told us during the week that there were some people who had made intentions to hold an unauthorised meeting at the [Serowe] Kgotla,” Oketsang said at the time.