Mokone out free on sedition charges


Sunday Standard editor, Outsa Mokone, walked out of the Gaborone High Court free, temporarily, after his lawyers successfully brokered a consent order with the State before Justice Modiri Letsididi.

Mokone was on Monday night charged with sedition under Sections 50 and 51 of the Penal Code, the first citizen in recallable history.

The two sections deal with the publication of articles likely to cause disaffection or hostility towards the head of state or the government.

Mokone was charged in connection with an article in which his publication claimed the president was involved in a road traffic accident. The Office of the President strenuously denied the allegation.

Before a packed courtroom filled with high profile witnesses yesterday evening, Mokone’s attorney, Duma Boko, secured an order from Letsididi not only freeing Mokone until case management on November 28, but also restraining the State from pursuing further similar charges or warrants against the editor, while the matter is pending.

“The respondents (Attorney General, Police Commissioner and Gaborone Chief Magistrate) shall not apply for any further warrants of arrest against the applicant based on facts similar in nature to those founding the warrant aforesaid, pending finalisation of this application,” ordered Letsididi.

The High Court judge further issued a rule nisi calling upon the respondents to show cause why the arrest warrant against Mokone should not be declared unlawful. The Attorney General, Police Commissioner and Chief Magistrate will also have to show cause why Sections 50 and 51 of the Penal Code should not be ruled as infringing on the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Under the rule nisi, Police Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe will also have to show cause why the refusal to grant Mokone access to his lawyers on Monday and Tuesday morning should not be ruled an infringement of his rights to legal representation.

The respondents have 28 days to file their answering affidavits, while Mokone and his lawyers will have another 14 days from that date, for their replying affidavit.

“Pending the finalisation of this application, the State shall not institute any criminal proceedings against Mokone based on facts similar in nature to those founding the warrant aforesaid,” Letsididi said. Boko appeared with attorneys Dick Bayford, Joao Salbany and Mboki Chilisa while acting Attorney General Nchunga Nchunga appeared for the respondents.

Meanwhile, briefing journalists after the ruling, Mokone thanked his legal team whom he said had spent the whole night fighting to secure his release and defend his case.

“It is every journalists’ case and I appreciate the activism demonstrated by fellow journalists,” he said. “I would rather spend 100 years in their prisons rather than be a prisoner of a guilty conscience.”

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