Botswana’s apex court has upheld a high court decision decriminalising gay sex. And the country’s attorney general has issued a special media release on the subject, saying that Botswana has an impressive post-independence record of observing human rights and the rule of law. Against this background, the government will ensure the new decision in the court of appeal’s judgment is implemented.
Decisions by a magistrate based at the Oshakati Regional Court in Namibia have led to strong community protest and concern by anti-rape activists who oppose sentences the judicial officer has passed in rape cases. They are also against him being asked to sentence a rapist in a case where he (the magistrate) had originally acquitted the accused. Now, following the state’s successful appeal against that acquittal, the magistrate must sentence the man whom he was originally sure was not guilty. Protesters, however, say the magistrate should have nothing more to do with the case as he will not bring an open mind to the matter.
The controversial report of an official inquiry into drug trafficking in Mauritius continues to cause waves in that state’s upper echelons. When it appeared in 2018, the report led to the resignation of the minister for gender equality as well as the deputy speaker in the national assembly. Both said they would contest the report, particularly its suggestion that they were implicated in drug scandals. The report went even wider in its reach, however: as well as linking politicians to drug traffickers, it suggested certain police officers and lawyers were involved as well, and recommended further inquiries in relation to them. Now the supreme court of Mauritius has decided an application arising from the report, brought by a prominent member of the legal profession who objected to the several pages dealing with allegations against him. What makes the case even more noteworthy is that the lawyer is Abdool Raouf Gulbul, whose wife, Rehana Bibi Mungly-Gulbul, has just been appointed Chief Justice of Mauritius. One of the allegations against Gulbul in the report was that during the 2014 elections, when he stood unsuccessfully as a candidate, he had used his wife’s phone to make calls that he did not want recorded. Another is that, given the income of the couple at the time, they could not have afforded to buy the properties they own.
Police in Namibia have yet again come in for some tough criticisms by the courts of that country. This time because of the unwarranted harassment, unlawful arrest, assault and abuse meted out against a transgender woman who was picked up and forced into a police van, for no good reason. A video that captured the continuation of the abuse and assault once the police van arrived at the station was shown to the court, and the judge quoted with approval comments in another case that ‘despicable conduct’ should not be associated with a professional police service in a constitutional state.
Many teenagers are sexually active but, in its efforts to protect children and vulnerable young people, the law is not always able to act appropriately in response. A significant new decision from the high court in Malawi raises the issue squarely and, in a section headed, ‘Overcriminalisation of factually consensual sexual intercourse’ suggests that South Africa, among others, might have found a suitable approach for the law to take. The judgment was delivered after the court reviewed the decision of a magistrate in a case where a teenage boy was charged with defilement for having had sex with a teenage girl a couple of years younger than he was. The magistrate acquitted the young man, but wrote a decision in a way that sensationalised the young woman’s sexual history and in so doing trivialised the problem faced by the courts, parents – and teenagers themselves. In her review of that decision, Judge Vikochi Chima suggested that this was not the style for judicial officers to adopt, but approved the magistrate’s finding that the young man should be acquitted.