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Judicial CP - June 2005

Corpun file 16131, 27 June 2005

Zimbabwean holidaymaker flogged in Botswana

Botswana police last Friday severely flogged a Zimbabwean holidaymaker after mistaking him for an illegal immigrant.

Relations between Harare and Gaborone are strained with Zimbabwe accusing Botswana authorities of ill-treating Zimbabweans visiting that country.
Gaborone, which denies victimising Zimbabweans, regularly administers corporal punishment against the citizens of its north-eastern neighbour whom it accuses of crossing illegally into Botswana and committing crime.

Zimbabwean banker David Mbwende, who was visiting a cousin who lives and works in Gaborone, was arrested by the police as he walked past a spot near the city centre where Zimbabwean job seekers regularly gather waiting for prospective employers.

He was detained in a police cell overnight before he was taken to the customary court the following day. Despite telling the court that he had entered legally to visit his cousin, the court still sentenced him to eight strokes by cane allegedly for loitering.

Gaborone Urban Customary Court President Dikwalo Monametsi told ZimOnline: "The accused was flogged for being idle. Most Zimbabweans, who frequent the area to look for jobs, run away when they see the police (because) the majority of them do not have work permits."

Corporal punishment deemed across the world as degrading and a violation of the dignity of recipients, is prohibited by the United Nations. But Gaborone, which administers this form of punishment to locals as well, says it is a necessary alternative to imprisonment and helps ease congestion in jails.

Botswana says it will finish constructing an electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe in August which it says is necessary to control spreading of cattle and animal diseases between the two countries by preventing free movement of wild animals and livestock across the frontier.

But Harare accuses Gaborone of constructing a Gaza-style electric fence that will endanger the lives of villagers living along the frontier.

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