Botswana Defends Flogging Thieves

BBC News, Aug. 10

Botswana will not stop the practice of flogging Zimbabweans found to have broken the law, said the assistant minister for presidential affairs.

“We do not discriminate and we are not going to give Zimbabweans any preferential treatment,” Mr Oliphant Mfa told AFP news agency.

He was responding to criticism from a Zimbabwean minister who described the practice of flogging as “primitive”.

Thousands of Zimbabweans cross illegally into Botswana every month.

Lashes

On Monday Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwe’s junior national security minister, said a series of talks at the end of last month with the Botswana government had failed to reach an agreement to stop the floggings.

“The act of flogging law-breakers in public is primitive and unruly for an adult to be humiliated in that fashion,” he told the Zimbabwe’s state-controlled Herald newspaper.

“We have even stopped flogging our children in schools here in Zimbabwe and feel Botswana should move with the times,” he said.

Certain crimes are punishable by corporal punishment in Botswana instead of jail terms.

“Take something like pick-pocketing and petty theft, you don’t take someone to prison for such crimes. You give them two or three lashes, and tell them to go home and never repeat that again,” said Mr Mfa.

Many Batswana blame a rise in crime on the influx of Zimbabweans fleeing their country’s economic crisis.

Botswana will extend the use of corporal punishment if a new bill published in the government gazette becomes law, Reuters news agency reports.

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