Botswana Case Law
A sort criterion
- Oatile v The Attorney General 2010 (1) BLR 404 (HC)
- Headnote: The plaintiff claimed constitutional damages for the failure by the State to try him within a reasonable period of time. He alleged that the delay of over 12 years from the date of his arrest to the date of commencement of his trial violated his right to be tried within a reasonable period of time, as contained in s 10(1) of the Constitution of Botswana. He was first arrested and charged with murder in February 1995. The charge was withdrawn in 1998 but he was recharged in 2004. He was brought to trial in 2007, at the conclusion of which he was acquitted. The defendant offered no explanation for the delay in the commencement of the plaintiff's trial. Held: (1) Whether a particular delay was unreasonable depended on the circumstances of the case. Relevant factors included the length of the delay, the crime charged, the availability of witnesses, the efforts made to prosecute expeditiously and the availability of judges or magistrates. Busi v The State  B.L.R. 69, CA at p 72E-F applied. (2) The withdrawal of the charge did not operate against the plaintiff. Sejammitlwa and Others v The Attorney-General and Others  2 B.L.R. 75, CA and In re Mlambo 1992 (4) SA 144 (ZS) at pp 151A-C and 151J-152A applied. (3) A period of over 12 years qualified as an inordinate delay in bringing the plaintiff to trial. (4) There was no explanation for why the plaintiff was not brought to trial subsequent to his release in 1998 or earlier and the delay was accordingly unreasonable. (5) The 'redress' to which an applicant was entitled for violation of his fundamental rights, in terms of s 18(1) of the Constitution of Botswana, included, where appropriate, an award of constitutional damages. Sekgabetlela v The Attorney-General and Another (Civ Case 954/07), H unreported at paras  and  followed; Maharaj v Attorney-General of Trinidad and Tobago (No 2)  AC 385 (PC) and Fose v Minister of Safety and Security 1997 (3) SA 786 (CC) at p 821 para 60 applied. (6) In the present case, the nature and circumstances of the breach of the plaintiff's constitutional rights justified his seeking to avail himself of his constitutional remedy. MEC, Department of Welfare, Eastern Cape v Kate 2006 (4) SA 478 (SCA) at p 491 paras 26-27 applied. (7) In the present case, an appropriate award of constitutional damages was A an amount of P100 000. Merson v Cartwright and Another  UKPC 38 at para 18 applied.
- Nkunga v The Attorney General 2010 (1) BLR 342 (HC)
- Headnote: The plaintiff was a security guard who manned the front gate of the Botswana Power Corporation Training Centre. A number of police officers proceeded through the the gate without stopping and registering the necessary particulars, as required by the security procedures at the gate. When the plaintiff insisted that they comply with the procedures, they assaulted him by strangling him, pushing him to the ground and beating him up. After assaulting him, they arrested him on a charge of common nuisance and detained him for a day. The plaintiff instituted action for damages for assault and for wrongful arrest and detention. In defence of the action, the defendant gave a completely different account of events at the front gate. Held: (1) On the evidence, the plaintiff had established that the assault was deliberate and unlawful. (2) Further, the arresting officer had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the plaintiff had committed the offence of common nuisance and his arrest and subsequent detention were consequently unlawful. (3) During the assault, the plaintiff sustained injuries from his head to thigh regions. He was examined by a doctor three days later but the doctor considered it unnecessary to prescribe any treatment or medication for his injuries. In the circumstances, an appropriate award of damages for the assault was an amount of P7 500. Mosaninda v The Attorney-General  B.L.R. 411 considered. (4) The plaintiff was detained for less than 24 hours, he received an apology from the station commander and there were no aggravating features that appeared from the evidence. In the circumstances, an appropriate award of damages for the unlawful arrest and detention was an amount of P7 500. Tlharesegolo v The Attorney-General  2 B.L.R. 730, Mosaninda v The Attorney-General  B.L.R. 411, Onkabetse v The Attorney-General and E Others  B.L.R. 120 and Kebafetotse v The Attorney-General  1 B.L.R. 419 considered.
- Mongakgotla v The Attorney General 2010 1 BLR 13 CA
- "Headnote: The appellant was cautioned, and then arrested and detained, on suspicion of having been involved in the commission of a robbery that was still under investigation. He claimed damages for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention. The High Court found that the arresting officer had harboured a reasonable suspicion that the appellant was involved in the commission of the robbery and dismissed the appellant's action. The facts upon which the finding of 'reasonable suspicion' was based were that the arresting officer had been given a tip-off that the robbery was committed by members of the Mongakgotla family, the appellant had been pointed out as a member of the Mongakgotla family, and the appellant had refused to answer questions by the police while they were conducting their investigation. The appellant appealed against the High Court's decision. Held: (1) The suspicion of the arresting officer was not reasonable because it was based on nothing more than a tip-off that the robbery was committed by members of the Mongakgotla family and a pointing out of the appellant as a member of the Mongakgotla family. (2) As a cautioned suspect the appellant was entitled to refuse to answer questions and his silence did not strengthen the reasonableness of the suspicion at the time of his arrest. (3) It followed that the appellant's arrest and detention for 16½ hours was G unlawful. (4) The appellant spent the night in a dirty and smelly police cell, and the blankets were dirty. He was unable to sleep at all and was provided neither with access to a shower nor with food. (5) In the circumstances an amount of P5 000 would adequately compensate the plaintiff for his injuria.
- Eworho v The Attorney General 1986 BLR 359 (HC)
- ... the power of detention under section 14(1) of the Immigration Act (Cap. 25:04) (1973 Rev.) is limited to such period as may be necessary for the completion of arrangements to remove a person detained from Botswana. In the circumstances of the instant case the court could not hold that detention from the first half of May 1986 to 15 August 1986 was reasonably necessary to make arrangements to effect the removal of the applicant from Botswana. The writ de homine libero exhibendo would therefore issue.
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