BOTSWANA: Youth dies after flogging

Summary: A 15-year-old schoolboy has died in Botswana from injuries caused by flogging - a sentence handed down by village elders.

[TSETSEBJWE, 22 August 2011] - The traditional court, the Kgotla is once again in the spotlight after a minor died in Tsetsebjwe after being flogged by village elders. 

The victim, a Form I student in the village, was buried on Sunday, after complaining of pains on the back and waist, following the flogging. 

The juvenile, 15-year-old France Kalodi, of Tsetsebjwe died last week at Nyangabwe Referral Hospital after complications his parents believe arose from the lashes he received at the local Kgotla.

While the headman who sentenced the boy to four strokes on bare back maintains he was within the law, the police and tribal authorities are in agreement that the offence and the age of the boy did not warrant such a heavy punishment.

Tsetsebjwe village's Sub-Tribal Authority said in an interview that though he was yet to be officially briefed on the issue, customary law does not allow corporal punishment on juveniles and their cases are referred to social welfare officers for counselling.

He added that the offence was too light to warrant four strokes of the cane. "Again an elderly person cannot administer corporal punishment on a small boy," he said.

Botswana Police Officer Commanding Number 10 District Superintendent Diphetogo Chibanne said they are aware of the case and that the post-mortem had been done. "No underage is suitable for corporal punishment especially on bare back," he said.

The teenager had apparently slapped his schoolmate during a typical schoolboy disagreement, when they teased one another about their clothes.

However the incident ended at the police station, who later referred the matter to the local Kgotla.

Mogadingwane ward headman Ntwayapelo, who is accused of delivering four strokes on a minor's bare back, admits the boy's punishment took place at his Kgotla.

He also admitted that the strokes were delivered by a passerby that he invited to come over and administer the punishment.

"We do not have court bailiffs in our Kgotla, I just invited a passerby to come and administer the strokes," he said. Ntwayapelo said they are allowed to administer strokes on bare back and said the extent of the injury that the said boy caused on his colleague attracted four strokes. "I was aware that the boy was a juvenile when I delivered the punishment but I was under pressure from his mother who preferred corporal punishment to a criminal charge from the police.

"The mother and the police could have taken the boy to the social welfare officials instead of coming to my Kgotla if they knew it was a social welfare issue," said the kgosi.

However the boy's mother, Jane Kalodi, told The Monitor that the authorities told her that since the boy was underage they could not open a case against him but were advised to go to the traditional ward for corporal punishment. "Upon arrival at Mogadingwane ward, the headman called a passerby to come and administer the strokes on my son's bare back," said the distraught mother.

This happened last Friday and four days later, France complained of a painful waist and back and kidney trouble.

His condition worsened until he was taken to a local clinic the next day. The following day his condition deteriorated further as he started vomiting blood. "We took him to a Selebi-Phikwe Hospital where he was admitted; but  the vomiting never stabilised and he was booked for a scan after which we were told that one of the strokes must have affected the kidneys," the mother said, adding that France, eventually died on August 15 at Nyangabwe Hospital in Franistown where he had been transferred.


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