The High court will on Wednesday deliver judgment in an urgent application case in which campaigners under the banner #IShallNotForget movement are challenging the decision by government to deny them a permit to march in protest of sexual abuse of children. When presenting the applicants’ case their attorney Mboki Chilisa asked Justice Gaopalelwe Ketlogetswe to review and set aside the decision by government to deny the movement the right to engage in a peaceful march. According to Chilisa, government (the police) did not make appropriate and considerate decisions by denying the applicants the permit to march. The state according to Chilisa acted unlawfully and irrationally. Most importantly according to Chilisa, the state has also acted in breach of the Constitution. He argued that the Constitution also confers on every person the right to protection of the law, and the requirement by police that one must wait for at least 30 days before their application to march is attended to is inconsistent with the law and ‘absurd’. He further argued that government through the Officer Commanding District No. 3 seek to regulate the applicants ‘s right to free speech. According to Chilisa the march in question is not about some issue that is hidden from the public domain but about a matter that really captures the imagination of the public. “The fact that the police underplays the matter even warrants that the march take place so that it may be deemed urgent by the police and the powers that be,” he said.
Meanwhile the state attorney in this matter, Otsile Rammidi dismissed the applicants’argument that the state had denied them a permit to march. According to Rammidi the police only said that the march could not take place on the said date (14th May 2016) and had never denied to issue the permit totally. Rammidi also argued that the state still maintained that the matter was not urgent as the applicants have failed to disclose any objective facts demonstrating they are exposed to imminent irreparable harm. He argued that the matter be brought to court through the normal process. He further argued that the applicants did not also give the police enough time to regroup and assist them accordingly but rather adopted a ‘do or die’ approach, hence their decision to file an urgent application with the high court. The crux for declining the permit by the police was as outline in their response to the applicants according to Rammidi read : “Processions of this magnitude can attract a large number of participants, as such we can never be exact about the number of people who might be part of the activity. The date for the procession is a short notice and it won’t allow us enough time to mobilise resources needed to cover such an activity. We have a duty to protect lives and property of the inhabitants of Botswana, therefore if we are to issue a permit and fail to manage or contain the procession, which might lead to a breach of peace, then we will have failed on our mandate,”
The decision to engage in a protest march in Gaborone was motivated by a recent incident in which a 16 year old school going girl was manipulated and made pregnant by a politician. It has since surfaced that a total of 407 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy, in the past 12 months .