Keorapetse wants full salary for soldiers on suspension

08th August 2017
Honourable Keorapetse Source:The Midweek Sun

Parliament is currently debating a motion calling on government to pay full salary to members of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) who are placed on suspension just like any other civil servant.

Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse tabled the motion. In his proposal to amend the BDF Act, Keorapetse stated that paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of “ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat” or the presumption of innocence, adding that the burden of proof is placed on the one who declares not on the one who denies.

“The officers and soldiers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the civil courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Therefore, paying officers and soldiers a portion of their salary is punishment before a guilty verdict and consequently unreasonable,” he said.When officers and soldiers are suspended either because they are facing an internal military disciplinary proceedings or court martial or criminal charges in the civil courts of law, the Commander of the BDF can decide to withdraw a portion of their earnings for a period of suspension pending investigations or determination of their matters. Section 117 of the BDF Act states, “Where a person to this Act is under investigation, with a view to the institution of criminal proceedings against him, either before a civil court or a court martial, the Commander or any officer so authorised by the Commander, may suspend such person from the performance of his duties pending the outcome of such investigation, or the outcome of the proceedings arising there-from.”

If further states, “The Person so suspended shall, during the period of such suspension, be paid such portion of his salary, being not less than one half thereof, as the Commander, or the officer so authorised by the Commander, determines.” According to Keorapetse the problem with Section 117 is that if an officer or soldier has their emoluments withheld during suspension period, which sometimes is up to between two and four years, the damage suffered is immeasurable that it is hard to almost impossible to reverse.

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