In the Sunday Standard issue of May 31 -6 June 2015, the newspaper publishes a headline article bearing the title “DISS in psychological warfare to save Kgosi” and the sub-title “Big hands behind “save Kgosi” campaign exposed.” It is not an expose but an opinion piece; that is all it is as the Sunday Standard has no evidence of the conspiracy it implies. This I know because of all the people named in the article, I know only Mr Kgosi, the late Mr Nchindo, Mr Jacob Sesinyi and Attorneys Chibanda Makgalemele and Company, and the other alleged co-conspirators I do not. It also is not a journalistic report but a “join the Press in hating and destroying Isaac Kgosi” campaign. Of me and the above Attorneys the article says that we are “barraging local newspapers with law suits to create a chilling effect against covering the story on Kgosi’s alleged corruption”. The Sunday Standard also says that late last year Mr Kgosi’s PR agent and I created a rebuttal on behalf of Mr Isaac Kgosi, which rebuttal the Sunday Standard says raised more questions than gave answers. The newspaper finally writes that I was once associated with the BMD and “even sourced and paid for a pathologist that was engaged to investigate BMD leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi’s death. This followed reports that Motswaledi had been assassinated by the DISS.”
Let us separate fact from fiction. I am a lawyer. Just under a year ago, Hon. Sadique Kebonang, then an Attorney in practice, called and said that he had a client who needed legal advice. He did not say who the client was, and I did not ask; the identity of the client was irrelevant. I give advice to whoever needs it, and who needs it does not matter. He brought Mr Isaac Kgosi, who told me his story and what advice he needed. I told him that I would give him legal advice in respect of the investigation by the DCEC as that fell within my function as a lawyer. Concerning the Press reports on him, I said he should find a public relations expert to assist him prepare a response. In due course, Messrs Kgosi and Kebonang came with Mr Jacob Sesinyi, a professional who is NOT defined by being my son in law. I said to Mr Kgosi to go and answer all the allegations made against him by the Press. To Mr Sesinyi I said he must, in preparing the response, ensure that all the answers Mr Kgosi gave were supported by documentary evidence. In due course they returned with the response, which I twirked and gave to Mr Kgosi to sign and to have it published. I advised Mr Kgosi to withdraw the defamation suit he had brought against the Botswana Gazette newspaper which he said was conducted by Attorneys Chibanda Makgalemele and Co. as I did not want the suit to detract from his response. Later Mr Kgosi told me he had instructed his Attorneys to withdraw the lawsuit.
A while later Hon Kebonang and I attended with Mr Kgosi at an interview to which the latter had been invited by the DCEC. I parted with Hon Kebonang and Mr Kgosi on the note that my job in the matter was done, and that they may return if Mr Kgosi should be charged. They have since not returned. That was the last I had anything to do with Mr Kgosi’s troubles. We have not seen the questions which the Sunday Standard says Mr Kgosi’s published response raised. I suppose defeat is something some people are unable to admit.
I had no hesitation assisting Mr Kgosi, and never will I hesitate to assist him or anybody else beset by trouble. That is what I do. I had, over an extended period of time, watched with horror the vicious manner in which a section of the Press had, like a ravenous pack of wolves, mercilessly descended upon and tore into Mr Kgosi. It escaped me why, if they had evidence of all the things they wrote, they chose to themselves prosecute and convict him in the media when the thing to do was to take the evidence to the DCEC or the DPP and urge a prosecution. The timing and tenor of the reports smacked of political motivation, and the Sunday Standard confirms it when it finds an irony in my assisting Mr Kgosi while at the same time paying for an expert Forensic Pathologist to assist in the investigation of Mr Motswaledi’s death. There is no irony in it at all. I assisted Mr Kgosi as a lawyer and contributed to the investigation of the cause of Mr Motswaledi’s death because I saw it as my civic duty to support an effort to get to the bottom of the cause of his death so that if it was caused by foul means, those who did should be prosecuted.
The Sunday Standard is wrong when it says that I was once associated with the BMD; I was not associated with it- I am one of those who founded it. The Sunday Standard is wrong in saying that I sourced the Forensic Pathologist referred to above. When Mr Modubule called to ask if I could recommend any such expert, I coincidentally recommended someone who had already been suggested by others within the BMD and the UDC, and by Attorneys who had been engaged to instruct (“source” as the Sunday Standard prefers). I had no dealings whatsoever with the Pathologist in respect of the matter; I only asked that his Invoice be passed to me for payment following the work. This I did because Mr Modubule had informed me that the UDC had opened a banking account into which members of the public were being invited to make contributions to meet the cost of the investigation. I am a member of the public.
I refuse to join the Sunday Standard in hating Mr Kgosi, which is the reason the newspaper is implicating me in a non-existent conspiracy “to save Kgosi”. There are lawyers in this country who, because of their political views, will not assist anybody who they believe to have different political views from their own. It is their right to decide who to represent and who not to. I am not one of such lawyers, and the Sunday Standard should respect my choice. I did not go to political law school, and I do not practice political law. My sworn role as a lawyer is to die ensuring that the rights secured to every person by the Botswana Constitution receive the fullest possible protection, whatever the identity or political views of that person, and whoever he works for. Our Constitution secures the equal protection of the laws to all whatever their identity and politics. The ethics of my profession enjoin me to ensure that the Constitution is upheld in respect of everybody irrespective of their identity, politics and who they work for. And there is no contradiction in this. The right to one’s political beliefs and the presumption of innocence and the right to one’s choice of a lawyer arise from the same Constitution. Cynics say we do it for money. We do it because it is the right thing to do, and we get paid for doing it in the same way that those who work for the Sunday Standard get paid for writing the things they do, including the false allegations of an imagined conspiracy that they make. I acted for many members of opposition parties when I was a member of the BDP, prominent amongst which was Mr James Mathokgwane, and I never heard complaints of conspiracies from the Press.
A section of our Press seem to want Batswana to be defined by their respective political beliefs and are promoting division and hatred based on political beliefs. They hate the BDP and the President and everybody associated with him because of his politics and want us all to do the same. I refuse to be defined by political beliefs and I refuse to hate those who do not share my beliefs. The fires of hatred stoked by a section of our Press would, if fuelled, result in Batswana of different political persuasions killing each other as happens in many countries of the world, including and particularly in Africa.
The Sunday Standard says that Chibanda Makgalemele and Co and I are “barraging local newspapers with lawsuits to create a chilling effect” at the instance of Mr Kgosi and the DISS. Ba a nkakela. I am not and have never acted for DISS. In point of fact, more than twice I have acted against DISS. I am not and have never been briefed by Chibanda Makgalemele and Co or any other Attorneys to represent either Mr Kgosi or DISS in any lawsuits. I am told that Mr Outsa Mokone, the Editor of the Sunday Standard, is suing the State in consequence of his arrest and detention, which he complains was unlawful. It is his right to do so. Why should Mr Kgosi and the DISS not have the same right where they believe that an actionable wrong has been committed against them?
Finally, I always tell people that the democracy that we have, to the degree that we do, and its maintenance, has been contributed to immensely by the vibrant Press that we have. This said, the Fourth Estate must also know that they too cannot operate unchecked; power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Press has immense power which, if exercised unchecked, may destroy our country. Defamation suits is one of the ways in which the power of the Press is checked. Mr Kgosi is free to sue the Press if he considers that they have wronged him. The use of lawyers in doing so does not imply a conspiracy of any sort. The watchdogs must be watched by others for they cannot be trusted to watch themselves. I consider that the article under reply defames me and my rights are reserved.
*Pilane is a Gaborone based attorney