I regrettably return with yet another instalment after one of our own has decided to take his disciplinary issues with the Botswana Defence Force as some form of witch hunt. I had vowed during my last instalment that it will be the last least I become just like the rest of the lot that has embarked on a mission to disregard their oaths of office and discuss military issues in the public domain. I have been forced out of silence and pretending that I do not see nor hear evil by the silence of the BDF on this matter. Brigadier Peter Magosi, is not just an ordinary ex-soldier, he takes exception in being former Military Intelligence Chief and hence his behavior post his service at the barracks shall continue to be of immaculate interest. He has forgot the lesson that soldier exits service with a head high and last official salute.
Though his career was marred by isolated incidences of insubordination, it never occurred to me that upon his retirement Magosi will intensify this behaviour. I am afraid that there is a disturbing trend growing from those who unceremoniously leave the BDF. Captain Richard Moleofe immediately came to mind when I read stories about Magosi sounding more like another loose cannon is on the offing. With two master’s degree in Defence studies and Strategic Studies, Magosi surely knows how a former soldier, a former commander, handles himself. He is not only a former soldier as has been key figure at the BDF’s Military Intelligence. He has been deputy chief, commander of the 1st infantry Brigade and he is former Chief of Staff, Joint Operations at the BDF Headquarters.
Magosi joined the BDF in 1985 as an officer cadet progressing to become the No 1 Infantry Brigade Commander. He was amongst other things a member of the Special Forces which forms the cream of any military and is envied by many within the armed forces. I introduce this point because I will have to refer to his growth in the BDF as a result of many hands he passed through, one such hands belong to Colonel Isaac Kgosi who now heads the Directorate of Intelligence Security Services. It is interesting to note that it is Kgosi who roped in Magosi into the Military Intelligence in 1996 when there was a need to establish a new unit code named ‘Cobra’. This is the same officer that Magosi wants to blame for his dismissal from the BDF. Breaches of military discipline must be dealt with speedily and, frequently, punished more severely than would be the case if a civilian engaged in such conduct. As a result, the military has its own Code of Service Discipline to allow it to meet its particular disciplinary needs. Magosi is a victim of his own breach of military conduct and if I was to blame, I will blame Kgosi for having not exercised due diligence in appointing Magosi to Military intelligence.
I need to share with the reader who might not be conversant with how the military works about the purpose of military tribunals. The purpose of a separate system of military tribunals is to allow the Armed Forces to deal with matters that pertain directly to the discipline, efficiency and morale of the military. This might entail the commander in chief of the armed forces, the state president, upon recommendation relieving you of your duties. It is not witch hunt, it is preserving dignity and discipline of the military. In addition, special service tribunals, rather than ordinary courts, have been given jurisdiction to punish breaches of the Code of Service Discipline. Let me relate this point to an incident when the board of enquiry was convened to investigate the allegations of adultery between Magosi and Keitumetse Kebaswele, the spouse of Corporal Thero Kebaswele.
Though by dealing quickly and fairly with matters that pertain directly to the discipline, efficiency and morale of the military, military commanders enhance the operational effectiveness of the soldiers, most soldiers in the barracks had already through corridor opinion tried and sentenced Magosi. This was and remains bad for the BDF discipline as soldiers cannot have absolute trust to commands of a senior who gets involved with their wives or girlfriends. It is against the BDF’s code of conduct to sleep with the wife of a fellow army man and worse so that the wife in question confessed to the sexual relationship with Magosi who is also married. It takes away the morale of the soldiers and when the morale of the soldiers is low, the security of a nation is at risk.
BDF commanders, of which Magosi was one of, are responsible for ensuring the success of military missions, promoting the well-being and discipline of the soldiers under their command, and properly managing the equipment and resources entrusted to them for purposes of military operations. Individual junior soldiers are in turn legally responsible for promptly carrying out the lawful orders of their commanders. But these cannot be possible when senior officers are embroiled in marital disputes with their juniors. I am being pushed to say this because I realise that Magosi forgets that it is his isolated but inter related doings that led to his demise.
Like any other armed force, maintaining discipline at BDF requires that military personnel be trained and held to high standards of both conduct and performance. That includes being drilled on fighting crime. The basic of crime will in this case be, stealing by servant such as stealing money meant for staff welfare of juniors. Armed forces enforce internal discipline because it is required to be able to enforce discipline outside the armed force. It is an open secret that from 2008 until 2016 when Magosi was sent into retirement, a total of P74, 000.00 went missing in what junior officers described to have handed over to Magosi through his (Magosi) instructions. That is against the BDF Code of Conduct. It is a punishable crime and one wonders why Magosi was not tried and punished for this crime. He has not even paid a single thebe of this money to this day. The barracks is pregnant with this concern and if the BDF does not make Magosi pay, it might be setting a precedence.
While training and leadership are central to the maintenance and enforcement of discipline, the chain of command must also have a legal mechanism called the military justice system. But this military justice system often finds itself suffocated by the constitution of the country which allows everyone to seek redress at the courts of the country. I am not oblivious to the fact that Magosi was not finally found guilty of marital misconduct. But the reader should recall that when the board was supposed to proceed on March 18, 2015, Magosi through attorney Dick Bayford rushed to court to stop the proceedings because the board did not provide cellphone records between the affected persons for the month of January 2015. This was not to say there was no sexual relation.
Major General Molefe Seikano, a qualified and humble member of the Special Forces can vouch for me that the discipline of Brigadier Magosi had reached an all-time low. We have all learnt since arriving at the BDF that the discipline of Brigadier Magosi has always been lacking. This is evident in the history of the BDF that in 1992 when Major General Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo, who was a Colonel then recommended that Magosi be transferred. Instead of disciplining Magosi, the BDF made a mistake of giving him more responsibilities, a promotion to 41 Infantry Battalion in Selebi Phikwe. He was after many years in Selebi Phikwe returned to Gaborone to join the Presidential guard. Nobody knows why the BDF has always protected him, but everyone knows that he got used to this protection. It is utterly painful as a serving soldier to learn that when finally justice has been dispensed on Magosi, he has the audacity to play a victim of witch hunt. Magosi made his own bed in many instances that I cannot mention least I expose those matters that should remain internal BDF information forevermore, he must lie on it.
Lieutenant Godfrey Letsholo
Glen Valley Barracks