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Freelance photojournalist arrested, detained

(MISA/IFEX) - A freelance photojournalist, Lefoko Mogapaesi, was arrested and detained while on duty on the afternoon of 27 October 2010 by members of the Botswana Police. The photographer was handcuffed and taken to the Central Police Station.

Mogapaesi, together with other members of the press were covering a very high-profile case of Bakgatla Paramount Chief, Kgafela Kgafela II, and 13 other members of his regiment who are facing charges related to flogging of people in their district. The court had earlier ruled that Kgafela, and the other co-accused must be remanded in custody while they wait for their trial to resume in 14 days.

The Central Police Station Commander, Kavin Mookodi, who ordered the arrest, claimed that Mogapaesi was misbehaving and disturbing the police who were doing their work. The police further claimed that Mogapaesi refused to cooperate with police officers who had asked all members of the press to move out of the way as they were transferring some suspects who had just been remanded in custody.

This, according to the police commander, showed lack of appreciation on the part of the journalist, and they had no option but to arrest and detain him.

Meanwhile, some members of the press that MISA-Botswana talked to indicated that the police only focused on Mogapaesi and did not detain journalists from the state-owned Botswana television network. Members of the press accused the police of double standards. After MISA-Botswana intervened on his behalf, Mogapaesi was released after spending a few hours in a police cell.

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