A citizen who was imprisoned by the intelligence agency, the DIS, after making a nasty remark about President Ian Khama after buying a copy of The Monitor newspaper is smiling all the way to the bank.
Justice Abednico Tafa of the High Court has awarded Phillip Tlhage over P2.9 million in claims against the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) for unlawful arrest, detention and torture.
Tafa granted a final judgment to Phillip Tlhage after the DIS failed to defend the suit. Tlhage moved to court alleging that he was arrested, harassed, detained, interrogated and threatened with violence by DIS agents after he talked about the infamous cheetah attack on President Ian Khama.
He cited the Attorney General, DIS head Isaac Kgosi and the Commissioner of Police and two other DIS operatives as respondents. Tlhage said he was repeatedly threatened with physical violence and the officers of the DIS continuously told him that they have all personal information about him which they could use in any manner they deemed fit.
In his letter of demand, Tlhage said the that though he was not convicted of any offence, he was fingerprinted, photographed and made to feel like a criminal. He said he was repeatedly accused of being a threat to national security and the government. He said members of DIS, specifically Kgosi and the two agents took turns interrogating, taunting, denigrating and threatening him with torture and violence; saying that if he did not tell them what he said about the President they had mechanisms which could make him talk.
Tlhage argued that the ordeal amounted to “unlawful arrest, unlawful detention, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and ... abuse of power” since he did not commit any crime but rather only made utterances about the President which were not unlawful. He said that the remarks he made “are permissible and or protected as part of freedom of expression and or permissible in a democratic society such as Botswana”.
He said he was unlawfully detained at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport Police Station for 30 hours. Tlhage demanded compensation from the police for their collaboration with the DIS. He has made five claims totaling P2,950,000 for breach of his constitutionally protected rights, unlawful arrest and detention; and “delictual damages for breach of a statutory duty”.