May 13th 2009 a man we hardly knew was ambushed and executed by the authorities, catapulting him to national stardom. Everyone was talking about this John Kalafatis, he became part of popular culture.
His death raised many questions which still up to now have not been fully addressed. The furore that followed his untimely demise was a direct result of the introduction of the country’s security services, the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), the debate over the need of such a sector had been ongoing for a while and as soon as Kalafatis fell the public was quick to point fingers, arguing the misuse of such a service etc. News continued to arise after the killing news that was shocking and unbelievable at times… some publications (and some parts of the government) moved on to tell us that the man who had garnered the sympathy of the nation was a criminal, a man who robbed people of their belongings and all, other publications went on to tell of how he had robbed a business-man friend of the President previously, leading us into an array of conspiracy theories that implicated the top echelon of this country. Counter argument arose then and there! So John Kalafatis was a criminal, does that give anyone the right to brutally murder him? Why was a small time criminal like Kalafatis hunted by such a large group of police officers, Soldiers and god knows who? Why was an un-armed criminal shot more than 10 times? Who gave these orders? At that point in time what was Kalafatis accused of?
Those were just some of the many questions that were asked during the long and sometimes tedious debate over this unknown fellow’s death. Someone had to take the fall, that was clear as soon as the public outcry became deafening. Sure enough some of the fellows who pulled the trigger were taken before the courts, the trial in its own turned out to be pretty weird. The Botswana Defence Force would then foot the legal bills of these said murderers. So due to a lot of extenuating circumstances these poor fellows were given 11 years behind bars. Something the public and obviously the family of John Kalafatis deemed an insult.
Lo Behold! That was nothing compared to what happened next!! The President of the republic pardoned said murderers.
The kalafatis family through their lawyer, Dick Bayford (stop laughing at his name) communicated their disappointment, with good reason too.
‘…the decision by the President to exercise in favour of the murderers of John Kalafatis a prerogative of mercy simply confirmed the suspicions that the public has always harbored: that the murder of Kalafatis was engineered and sponsored from the highest echelons of powers… We are all aware that as a general principle the government of Botswana is reluctant to exercise the prerogative of mercy in favour of convicts’ – Dick Bayford. The Gazzette, Wed 6-12 June 2012.
By talking to a whole host of people, reading newspapers, blogs and listening to the radio I can safely tell you, the President has done nothing legally wrong!! Legal wise he is within his rights to pardon criminals and murderers, he has done it before. Dr Jeff Ramsay emphasized on its legality and also took a jab at the private media…
‘Whilst it is not in dispute that the President acted within the confines of the law and in exercise of the powers vested in him by the constitution, which everyone seems to be aware of, it would appear there are some quarters who seek to challenge the decision taken by the president in this matter. The motivation of this is to try to discredit the government and the president.’
What is O____O about such a decision is the moral stand-point of it all, it was also too soon. I personally am happy the guys who pulled the trigger were set free because let us face it they did not kill kalafatis, yes they pulled the trigger but as a soldier are you not supposed to be working under orders? So the real killer of John kalafatis is out there and should step forward and answer for his sins. The person who gave said order needs to come forward. This is a very sensitive case and truth be told the pardoning of these said killers brings into question the vulnerability of our constitution to people in power, questions of a review have been thrown around a lot and cases like these make us go ‘maybe crazy Kgafela was right after all’… the timing of this pardon was just so wrong, Mr President mis-kicked. It looks shady, is he privy to information the public is not familiar with… i think most of us would really like to know exactly why these convicts were pardoned and we know the exact reasons as to why they deserve special treatment is the answer to who killed John Kalafatis.