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Boy, 16, flogged for not wearing a mask


The fuming mother of a boy who was brutally flogged for breaking COVID-19 regulations by not wearing a mask in public has threatened legal action.

Botswana made wearing of face mask in public compulsory to control the spread of corona virus and imposed a maximum fine of P5 000, imprisonment or both for anybody caught without a mask outside.

Last month, police during their patrol at Mahetlwe village tried to stop four boys riding a donkey cart but failed as the teenagers continued with their journey to the cattle post.

However the police managed to identify the boys and went to their house the following day and summoned two of the suspects, aged 21 and 16 to the kgotla where they were charged for not wearing masks in public.

The other two, had travelled back to Gaborone, The Voice has learnt.

At the Kgotla one of the officers read Covid- 19 regulations and penalties for the offenders and then instructed the deputy village chief, Bathusi Maroane to whip the boys on their bare backs.

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Speaking to The Voice in an interview, the boy’s mother Leah Rankhubidu said it was a harsh punishment and what hurt her most was that parents were not called during trial of a minor child.

She went on to argue that corporal punishment was not listed on the punishment for breaking Covid-19 rules.

“My aunt was at home. The least they could have done was to ask her to be part of the hearing since the boy is a minor. I wonder which law they were using to brutally whip my son? When the child returned home, my brother went with him to confront the police and when they got there they were charged P200 each for failing to practice social distancing. My son was punished twice. That is child abuse and my son was traumatised,” said Rankhubidu.

Following the whipping the family took the boy to a doctor who has since written a report to be used to lodge a case of child abuse against village headman.

Chief Odirile Sechele has however distanced himself from the flogging stating that he did not know what influenced the cops’ decision to lash the child since the punishment is not in the Covid-19 regulations recommended punishments.

“ Both me and the Deputy chief were at home. Police went to fetch my deputy from home and ordered him to beat the poor children. This is a complicated matter and what was done is wrong. The law and Covid-19 regulations guide us. What I heard is that when they were told of the P5 000 fine and imprisonment, the boys panicked and said they would rather be whipped. One of them is a minor and it was wrong to punish him without parent’s consent,” said Kgosi Sechele

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*Wearing of masks no longer compulsory in Botswana