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Masisi pokes Khama on Kalafatis, Motswaledi

Publishing Date : 07 January, 2019

Author : TEBOGO KGALEMANG

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has thrown a political salvo towards his predecessor former President Ian Khama by threatening to reopen the cases of the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and John Kalafatis. 


President Masisi is said to have been angered by continuous maneuvers by his predecessor to unseat him as State President and leader of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).  “The announcement by former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Pelonomi Venson Moitoi to challenge Masisi as BDP party president is what broke the camel’s back. It has angered Masisi so much that he has vowed to do everything in his power to hit back at Khama,” a Cabinet member told this publication.


Prior to Moitoi’s decision, there were threats to impose a motion of no confidence against President Masisi by some BDP members of parliament and those in the opposition. Motswaledi and Kalafatis both died mysterious deaths and many within the opposition suspected a foul play by the State.  The deaths of the two remain the darkest period in the country’s post-independence history. The State has never owned up to full responsibility on the deaths of the two blaming fatigue causing an accident for Motswaledi and rogue intelligence officers having killed Kalafatis.


“Motswaledi having been suspended from the BDP as Secretary General went to form a breakaway political party the BMD, which became a national obstacle for the BDP.  BMD enjoyed overwhelming support amongst the youth and was seen as going to be an impediment to the BDP, more so that elections were in the horizon.  That was in 2014.  Indeed, even after the passing of Motswaledi, the BMD in cooperation with the BNF invigorated many Batswana voters and made a serious dent into the BDP’s majority in parliament winning 20 constituencies with BCP to BDP’s 37.”


Kalafatis’ family lawyer, Dick Bayford was recorded in one of the radio stations some years back revealing that the family was being systematically hunted down by State security because of an alleged controversial sex tape that the state security believe came into the late Kalafatis’ possession. The alleged video, according to Bayford, supposedly shows visuals stored on a laptop of a prominent State official in comprising sexual acts. The state security, so it is alleged, believes that the laptop containing the sexually explicit material was stolen by the late Kalafatis in 2009.


John was murdered by the Botswana Defence Force Military Intelligence in 2009 for undisclosed reasons. After public outcry and pressure from the family lawyers, the state prosecuted his killers who were convicted by the High Court. They had barely served their 11-year prison sentences when former President Khama pardoned them. Reasons for granting the convicts a rare presidential pardon has not been explained to the public.


In 2012, Kalafatis’ father was assaulted by unknown assailants and subsequently passed away from injuries sustained by the assault. He had been left severely beaten and left for dead behind Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Mogoditshane. On December 18, 2013, near a residential location commonly referred to as Partial, Kalafatis’ younger brother, Costa, was unlawfully and wrongly shot by members of a kindred Botswana security agency. He sustained serious injuries and was hospitalised at Princess Marina Hospital where he died five days later.


“Now that Masisi and Khama have fallen out, Masisi who was Khama’s number 2 feels he knows a lot behind the killings.  This is supported by Peter Magosi taking over Isaac Kgosi’s role as DIS director,” said the source. “Magosi may have firsthand information on what went wrong with the killing of Kalafatis. He was head of Military Intelligence when the killing was conducted by his team.  Papers, augmented by testimonies of intelligence officers and witnesses appear to substantiate what scholars have always suspected: Ian Khama, then President and Isaac Kgosi DIS Director at the time, know something about the deaths of Motswaledi and Kalafatis.” 

Khama’s Orders

The little that Khama or his administration has said ever since about the death of Gomolemo and Kalafatis has been obfuscation and denial.  The closest that his administration has come to admitting official responsibility was after Former Vice President Mompati Merafhe was quoted saying “one or two deaths by the state is not bad”. 


Another incident is of a leaked WhatsApp message sent to a group of friends by a former Minister in Khama’s cabinet who felt betrayed by Khama and Masisi, shared with friends to say Kalafatis was assassinated at the instance of the state and that the BDP sponsored the breakaway of the BMD.   Now that Masisi himself is said to have threatened to open the cases brings to credibility that the demise of the two citizens was at the hands of the state.


In private conversation with BDP members, one of Khama’s remaining Ministers in Masisi Cabinet reportedly said to a senior Khama supporter, that “not only was Khama fully aware of what was going on, but the DIS led by Kgosi was operating under Khama’s explicit orders”.  So much he Khama and Kgosi bypassed the Minister of Justice and Defence at the time. In his defense last year, Isaac Kgosi was quoted to have said to one local publication that Peter Magosi is the one who should take responsibility and that he dares anyone to accuse of him of the killings. 


Government silence

Batswana have always questioned the extent of government’s knowledge in these deaths.  Evidence so far shows that former Vice Presidents, Cabinet Ministers and MPs of the ruling party though not necessarily in agreement came to understand that the two killings were the result of a formal, broad based decision by the leadership.  Their silence however can later prove to them being eager accomplices.


Whilst accurately it will never be known, the existence of DIS body bags and secret houses is evidence enough to suggest that killings happened under Khama’s administration.  Oral testimony from some DIS agents during Kgosi’s leadership points to host of killings that were unknown. Batswana’s only hope is that the political fight between Masisi and Khama intensifies so that they get to know many untold stories about the state.

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