Politicizing Botswana's Judiciary Will Hurt The Country's Diplomatic Relations

On Friday— after a couple of weeks of cinematic style court arrivals— the former DISS agent codenamed  "Butterfly" was released on bail after the state decided not to oppose her bail application. Butterfly had been indicted on three charges including financing of terrorism and possession of unclaimed property.

The state deciding to not oppose bail did not come as a surprise to me because the initial charges that the agent was indicted on did not make sense in the first place. Butterfly is accused of "financing terrorism" but the supposed beneficiary of these terrorism funds has not been charged with terrorism in the place so the legal question here would be, who is the terrorist that Butterfly supposedly funded?

The vindication of South African businesswoman Bridget Motsepe-Radebe, who had been accused by the state of being a co-signatory in the opening of bank accounts which were supposedly used to siphon the looted funds also weaned the state's already weak case.

She appeared on ECNA early this week where she read a statement from one the banks she was accused of having some of these accounts at and also took the chance to lay it down to the Botswana judiciary for making unfounded accusations not only against her but against some other South African entities like the South African Defence Force which had been supposedly tasked by her with interfering in the BDP elections for party presidency last year.

Now that Motsepe has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the South Africa banks, more questions than answers arise. Where did the state get these documents supposedly signed by Motsepe? Did they fake evidence to push a motive? Why was Butterfly denied bail in the first place if the evidence against her cannot even be corroborated?

All these questions point to the incompetence of both the state prosecutors and the judicial system. Although the fight against corruption that the government has been embarked on since the new administration assumed office is a welcome development, the fact that the state can take unscrupulous actions like faking evidence should worry us all. The fact that this seemingly faked evidence was accepted and used by the courts to deny the agent bail is also quite concerning because it shoes how due diligence is not done in our courts.

Whether South Africa will take any action to redress this harassment of one of its most affluent citizens by Botswana courts remains to be seen but as one of our major trade partners, do we really want any unnecessary diplomatic tensions with our neighbor over unfounded and possibly fabricated accusations?

If Butterfly, Motsepe and other accused parties have indeed done the crimes that the state has accused them of, then they should of course be subjected to the full wrath of the justice system but what should not be done is use the country's judicial structures to settle political or personal scores.

Just because the state is using underhanded tactics to pursue corruption does not make it right. They, just like everyone else in the country, should not be allowed to act like they are above the law. Should we let that happen then we will also be partaking in the undermining of the country's judiciary and giving the state power to wield totalitarian power which they may use against innocent citizens in the future.

The fact that the state can fake evidence also paints a bad picture of the country internationally and might make potential investors think twice about investing in a country with a defunct judicial system that supports the use of recreant methods to attain "justice". With our very small economy,we simply cannot afford to alienate anyone thinking of investing in the country so it is on us as citizens to sternly disapprove of this politicization of the country's judiciary.


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