Outrage over sedition charge agaisnt Botswana journalist

A Botswana newspaper editor has been charged with sedition after a story claimed the president was involved in a car accident, prompting angry allegations of stifling press freedom on Wednesday.

Prominent Sunday Standard editor Outsa Mokone was arrested on Monday over a story alleging that President Ian Khama had a nighttime crash, which resulted in the other driver being given a new Jeep.

A defiant Mokone has since been released, but he vowed to fight the charges. “I would rather spend 100 years in their prisons than be a prisoner of guilty conscious,” he said upon his release.

Police raided the offices of Sunday Standard and seized documents and computer equipment. Mokone’s colleague, journalist Edgar Tsimane, reportedly fled to South Africa where he applied for asylum. The trial is expected to begin in late November, his lawyers said.

Under Botswana’s penal code, sedition is defined as incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.


Arresting journalists ‘willy-nilly’
Journalism groups slammed the decision to charge Mokone.

“We would not want to go the way of other African countries that have become notorious [for] harassing journalists and arresting them willy-nilly,” said executive secretary of the country’s editors forum, Kagiso Sekokonyane.

In the past, Botswana has been hailed as a shining light of African democracy.

But opposition parties and rambunctious allies in the press accuse Khama, a former army general, of becoming increasingly heavy-handed.

‘Intimidate and impede’
The Media Institute of Southern African (MISA) in Botswana was shocked to learn of Mokone’s arrest.

“The warrant of arrest relates to a possible charge of ‘seditious intention’ contrary to section 50(1) as read with section 51(1) C of the Penal Code of Botswana,” it said in a statement.

MISA Botswana said it is gravely concerned about “this attempt to intimidate and impede the work of the Sunday Standard, particularly as another journalist of the Sunday Standard, Mr Edgar Tsimane has also been threatened by the state in connection to an article he wrote.”

The media organisation said this is probably the first time Botswana’s sedition laws have been used against a journalist. – AFP, staff reporter

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Afp And
Guest Author

Related stories

Did Botswana execute ‘poachers’ ?

The Botswana Defence Force’s anti-poaching unit has long been accused of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Over 20 years the unit has killed 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face

Why do presidents cling to power?

Four former heads of state speak about what being president is actually like

Pandemic-induced human rights violations a double tragedy to humanity

The conflation of human rights violations and a pandemic leave the most vulnerable marginalised. Equitable and democratic societies are needed to fight against this

Botswana’s president goes shopping for a farm

Mokgweetsi Masisi is on a shortlist to acquire a portion of Botswana’s Banyana Farms — even though his bid did not meet the brief

From festival to John Vorster: Molefe Pheto on attending Festac ’77 uninvited

The musician and activist relives the political import of Festac '77
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Editorial: Crocodile tears from the coalface

Pumping limited resources into a project that is predominantly meant to extend dirty coal energy in South Africa is not what local communities and the climate needs.

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

DRC: Tshisekedi and Kabila fall out

The country’s governing coalition is under strain, which could lead to even more acrimony ahead

Nehawu leaders are ‘betraying us’

The accusation by a branch of the union comes after it withdrew from a parliamentary process
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…