APLOGISE OR PAY P1.5M-KHAMA WHAT IF I WAS HACKED -MCD
Former President Ian Khama seems to be headed for a showdown in court with his erstwhile staunch supporter, praise poet and defender, MacDonald Peloetletse.
With the former BDP councillor popularly known as MCD and Khama now standing on different sides of the political isle following Khama’s resignation from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, Peloetletse had launched a bitter criticism of Khama on social media.
However last week Khama brought Peloetletse’s social media random rants to an abrupt halt with a P1.5 million letter of demand for uttering what the former president’s lawyers have described as defamatory statements published on Facebook against their client.
The P1.5 suit was in response to a post on the social media maverick’s Facebook page calling Khama, “A liar and a thief who stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.”
“The statement is therefore defamatory of his character, has violated his right to a good name, and has unlawfully damaged his good reputation,” read the letter from Khama’s attorneys in part.
Khama’s lawyers demanded that Peloetletse must respond and comply with the demands of the letter by close of business on May 10, 2021, as they had been instructed to institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages as well as costs of attorney.
In a rambling response that left some lawyers expressing their shock at the apparent casualty with which the former councillor was treating the matter Peloetletse said he wanted clarity from Khama before he could reach a just and prudent decision on charting the way forward.
“I therefore, respectfully request enlightenment and clarification on the following issues, please provide me with proof that the allegations and comments which you attribute to myself were indeed authored by this humble soul called I and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked,” the former specially elected BDP councillor who once drove a borrowed car from Khama wrote in a letter that was circulated widely on Facebook on Wednesday.
Through the same letter, Peloetletse went on to explain that he was only responding to a social media post by Khama in which he, Khama had defamed government much to the amusement of many social commentators.
“I am reliably informed that the alleged comments of which I am accused and which have apparently caused your client great emotional indigestion were made in response to public comments by your client in which he (Khama) accused the Botswana Government inter alia, misusing public funds on personal agendas, in effect accusing members of our Government of stealing public funds for their personal use,” further reads the response by Peloetletse.
Peloetletse concluded his letter by firing a warning shot at Khama that should the legal battle ensue there would be a can of worms opened, “The consequences of which should not be underestimated.”
Councillor Peloetletse’s letter suggests that he is not going to apologize for his statements as demanded by former President Khama.
It is now up to the former president to decide whether to see through his threat to sue for defamation or to let sleeping dogs lie.
The letter seems to suggest, notwithstanding the obfuscation as a result of the choice of language employed, an argument that his was a comment on a matter of public interest.
That is an interesting defence. We must remember that the law seeks to protect a person’s reputation from unwarranted injury.
On the other hand, that protection must be balanced against society’s right to be informed. Ultimately, he will be required to prove the truthfulness of the statement complained of and that it was made for the public benefit.
The balance of that letter is but unnecessary verbiage.
It is a salutary commitment for a man to defend himself against the threat of a suit but he must be careful not to destroy his own case or open himself to more liability. Diba-Wa Diba