Botswana’s paroled prisoners back in jail

By Bakang Mhaladi

GABORONE- SOME of the 500 inmates released through President Ian Khama’s benevolent gesture just before the Botswana’s Golden Jubilee celebrations are back in the dock, with four implicated in murder cases.

Khama granted amnesty to 500 prisoners to celebrate the Golden Jubilee with their families.

The Botswana leader warned the released prisoners that they should not re-offend, otherwise, their independence will be short-lived.

“If you commit crime, you will be forced to complete your previous sentence, together with the new punishment,” he said when releasing the prisoners in Gaborone.

Prisoners serving time for serious crimes, including rape and murder, were not pardoned.

The President acts on information provided by prison officials on who qualifies for parole.

But just less than two months after tasting freedom, some former inmates are already back in familiar territory – in courts.

MPs are furious, however, that prison authorities released dangerous criminals, who had not been sufficiently rehabilitated.

“On Bots 50, the president released prisoners on presidential pardon. Already, four people have been (allegedly) murdered by those that received the presidential pardon and one has been grievously harmed by one parolee. Exactly what criteria was applied (to release the prisoners)?” opposition Member of Parliament, Sedirwa Kgoroba, queried this week.

The MP is expected to take his concerns to the National Assembly when sitting resumes in December.

In one of the cases, a parolee appeared in court last week facing murder charges after allegedly being involved in the axe killing of a man while stealing his cellphone outside a nightclub in the capital.

Witnesses told local media that the parolee was the axe wielder who struck the deceased.

The gang of four, all repeat offenders, faces three charges including murder.

Botswana Prisons Service spokesperson, Oagile Kojane, when asked to confirm the number of parolees who had re-offended, said he was unsure if the names were supposed to be made public.

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