Suspected Botswana security agents have been accused of detaining and threatening to kill three Journalists working for INK Centre for Investigative Journalism, non-governmental organisation based in Gaborone.
The alleged detention which occurred in the central part of Botswana appears to be an effort by the government to intimidate and harass independent media in a country widely seen as a pacesetter for democracy in Africa.
Seven armed plain clothes security agents on quad bikes and SUVs, barred the journalists near Mosu village, some 600kms north eastern Gaborone and warned them never to “set foot” near President Ian Khama’s private compound or risk death read a statement issued by INK centre for investigative Journalism .
The trio; Ntibinyane Ntibinyane, Joel Konopo and Kaombona Kanani had travelled to the area to investigate developments at President Ian Khama’s holiday home near Mosu village.
This comes after members of the Botswana Defence Force and other government agencies are allegedly constructing a multi-million Pula compound for President Ian Khama at the tax-payers expense. The alleged construction has been concealed from the public.
The detention seems to be part of a growing pattern of official harassment of the private media in Botswana.
It comes a year after Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services arrested a freelance journalist for obtaining documents allegedly containing “state secrets”. In 2014, Sunday Standard editor, Outsa Mokone was held for several hours under sedition charges, causing veteran journalist at the same paper, Edgar Tsimane to flee to South Africa, saying he feared for his life.
The journalists reported the matter at a nearby Police Station in Letlhakane and have since opened a file of threat to kill against the unidentified agents.
Meanwhile, The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism has condemned the latest attack on independent media by the Botswana government.
AmaBhungane advocacy coordinator Karabo Rajuili is quoted saying: “It is alarming that death threats have been issued to the reporters for doing their job. There are growing concerns about the rise in the harassment of independent media in Botswana, particularly from government security agents.”