A Botswana Defence Force (BDF) recruit is fighting for his life at Bokamoso Private Hospital in Mmopane after sustaining life threatening injuries from an attack by a lion at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB). What started off as a normal Tuesday last week ended horribly for the recruit (names withheld) when in the afternoon he fell victim to a gruesome attack by a lion that had escaped from its enclosure. Sources told The Patriot on Sunday that on the fateful afternoon a Staff Sergeant had entered the enclosure where lions are kept to feed them. One of the lions is said to have sneaked behind his back and managed to escape through the gate, which was left slightly open. After escaping the lion is said to have immediately went after a group of recruits who were standing not far from the enclosure, who tried to run away. But it was too little too late for the young recruit who was brought down like prey and subdued to the ground by the lion causing serious injuries to his abdomen, chest and neck. In a show of bravery the Staff Sergeant is said to have rushed to the scene, grabbed the lion by its fore legs and started beating it with fists while repeatedly kicking its lower body and genitalia. He managed to free his colleague who was rushed to the hospital where he is recovering. "The recruit's life was saved by the Staff Sergeant. Like a true soldier he risked his own life to save another soldier. We only hear of such acts of bravery in fairy tales from fiction stories," a source at SSKB said. The Staff Sergeant in the Training Military College, formerly known as Force Training Establishment, is said to be a former batman of retired Brigadier Imphemele Kgokgothwane who has since joined opposition politics. Brigadier Kgokgothwane is among the most popular and revered names in Botswana military camps, with spine chilling accounts of his bravery and handling of wild animals kept at the barracks. Pictures of him in Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) regalia, posing with pythons wrapped around his body are in wide circulation on social media. Before his retirement, in an incident that shook SSKB, Kgokgothwane displayed bravery beyond measure when he reported to the office in the company of lions under his custody. A disciplinary hearing he was summoned to attend on that day was permanently removed from diaries of his seniors, so goes one account.
At the time of going to print BDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Fikani Machola had not responded to questions emailed to him, after indicating that he had already responded to inquiries from other media houses. His cell-phone was not answered. In yet another freak incident in early 2013, President Ian Khama addressed Kgotla meetings in Kgatleng district spotting stitches and a plaster to his face after being scratched by a cheetah. Local and international media was awash with reports of the attack on Khama, which took place at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) in Mogoditshane. A cheetah had bruised Khama's face "in excitement" while being fed in its enclosure at SSKB when it jumped up and scratched the president, who was standing nearby. The incident is said to have happened very fast, catching the president and his bodyguard by surprise. Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay was quoted by Sunday Standard saying the incident was a freak accident but not an attack, adding that Khama's injuries were minor and there were no real security implications. Cheetahs are an endangered species, hence the efforts by BDF to save them from extinction by supporting their reproduction in captivity before re-introducing them to their natural habitat in the wild. The declining population of cheetahs in Botswana, the world's fastest land mammals, is part of an estimated 12,400 thought to remain in the wild in Africa. Just like in the cheetah attack in 2013, the lion incident last week was swept under the carpet and downplayed by the BDF and Government as minor with no public statement released. Khama, who occasionally check on the animals at SSKB, is a world acclaimed nature enthusiast and conservation fanatic who has received numerous awards around the globe for his contribution to protection and preservation of flora and fauna. In 2017 the University of Wisconsin in Madison (US) awarded President Ian Khama a Global Citizen Award for his conservation efforts. He was honoured by ICUN at World Conservation Congress in South Korea in 2013, honoured at the US Congressional Members Dinner of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation 2011,