Axed Prisons Commissioner, Silas Motlalekgosi, is a bruised man.
Although he insists he has accepted his fate, Motlalelkgosi wants answers from his one-time buddy, President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
As we sit down for the exclusive interview, the barrel-chested former boss tries hard to convince us he has come to terms with his firing but often has moments of weakness.
He maintains he ‘deserved a better exit’ from a position he served diligently since 2009 and not the ‘abrupt’ dismissal he ultimately received.
“I know Masisi so much. I know he likes his cup warm when he drinks tea. I know Masisi just as I should know my boss. I don’t know why he would not look me in the eye to tell me what the problem was!”
Taking us back to last Tuesday, the day he got his marching orders, Motlalelkgosi says he was summoned by the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, and the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Elias Magosi, who handed him his letter.
“I asked them why they had kept the letter for a whole week since the date was backdated to a week before. I asked them what ‘forced retirement with immediate effect’ means and they couldn’t tell me, either of them. And so I left. I came back home to take off my uniform then went to the office to collect my stuff and here we are.”
Asked whether he suspects his axing is in any way related to his close association with former President, Ian Khama,
Motlalekgosi expertly dodges the question.
“I am not shy to say I grew up under General Ian Khama. He molded me into the man I am today. I am not shy to say he is my role model. I am not going to mince my words. I am the man I am today because of him. When he calls me, what am I supposed to do?” was the stern-faced Motlalekgosi’s response.
Pausing for a second, he adds in a slightly quieter tone, “Even under the circumstances, if Masisi was to call me to his office tomorrow, I would go.”
Pressed about his ‘news-making visits’ to suspended spy, Welheminah ‘Butterfly’ Maswabi, during her brief incarceration, Motlalekgosi dismissed it as a single visit and ‘nothing out of the ordinary’.
“I visit all prisoners all the time. It is part of my duty and, yes, we at the time had a high-profile prisoner whom you guys [the media] famously call Butterfly. I had to make sure she was safe from other inmates. I had to see for myself the special arrangement that was made for her that she is segregated from the others,” he said, adding he told Director-General of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Peter Magosi, about the visit.
Motlalekgosi further maintains he was accompanied by his juniors when he visited Butterfly.
“I was not at any point alone with Butterfly,” he reiterated.
Turning to the dramatic handcuffing of another high-profile figure, former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi, Motlalekgosi stressed he had given a direct order for Morupisi to be treated ‘humanely’.
“I don’t know what happened but something went wrong. It is very sad for me to say maybe someone infiltrated the system but something did go wrong because even upon my inquiry, something went wrong.
“According to me, there was no reason to handcuff him. The shock came when I was in a meeting and someone sent me the pictures. The officer in charge of course has got the prerogative and I was told it was his direction. To be fair, he acted within his right as an officer in charge. He says whoever leaves his prison they handcuff him to court and there was nothing I could do. And the law says once you are remanded in custody, you are classified as a prisoner, guilty or not guilty,” he explained.
* Catch our next issue to read more on the interview with Motlalekgosi, as he has his say on sodomy in prison, why he doesn’t approve of condoms, the ongoing abuse of prisoners, the unfulfilled plans he had for the prisons service and the lawsuit he has filed against the DIS.