Three journalists who tried to get a closer look at Botswana President Ian Khama’s holiday home last week were allegedly detained and threatened by plain clothes security agents, according to a local NGO.
The Ink Centre for Investigative Journalism, which is based in Gaborone, says the three were briefly held on Wednesday after they travelled to investigate “unexplained developments at President Ian Khama’s holiday home near Mosu village”, around 600km northeast of the capital.
“Seven armed plain clothes security agents on quad bikes and SUVs barred the journalists near Mosu village… and warned them never to ‘set foot’ near President Ian Khama’s private compound or risk death,” said the centre in a statement.
Private radio station GabzFM claimed the journalists had been following up on reports “suggesting that the military and other government agencies are alleged to be constructing a multi-million pula compound for Khama using tax payers’ money”.
Khama’s closely-guarded compound at Mosu appears to be a sensitive subject in Botswana.
The Botswana Guardian reported in 2013 that Khama “settled” in Mosu in late 2000, using a luxurious caravan as temporary accommodation before being allocated land to construct a lodge and an airstrip.
The Ink Centre for Investigative Journalism claimed that Wednesday’s incident “was part of a growing pattern of official harassment of the private media in Botswana”. The centre’s co-founder Joel Konopo was one of the three reporters who say they were detained. He told the US-based Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project that the reporters had been able to call a lawyer and identify the men as intelligence agents using the numberplates of the vehicles they were driving. – News24