ATI beats the rap

Sharon Mathala

*Artist walks free amid jubilant scenes ATI wins against the state

In highly dramatic scenes, as has become his trademark, local rapper Atlasaone Molemogi made a mockery of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) this week.

The artist – whose talent for music is matched by an unerring talent for controversy – was arrested on Tuesday evening after posting a live Facebook video of himself parking up at the gates of the state house.

It was the singer’s latest stunt in his high-profile crusade to gain an audience with President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

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Having endured a night in a police cell, the cops dragged 31-yar-old ATI before Extension 2 Magistrate Court at around 2pm the following afternoon.

As a huge crowd gathered outside the courthouse demanding the singer’s release, ATI was charged with the rather obscure offence of failing to comply with directions given by an authorized officer in a protected area contrary to section 5 (3) of protected areas act.

His charge sheet reads in part: “The accused person on the 23rd day June 2020 at or near the state house without lawful excuse or right took photographs and videos of the state house without permission.”

However, the charge was soon thrown out by the unimpressed presiding Magistrate, Kamogelo Mmesi.

This came after ATI, through his lawyers, Advocate Duma Boko, successful argued that the charge sheet was ‘defective’.

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Boko, who is also the President of opposition party Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), had submitted in court that the Police rushed to charge ATI without adequately ‘informing themselves’.

“Their charge sheet is fatally defective. They should be given time to reflect and come up with proper charges. There is nothing desperately urgent about this case,” insisted Boko.

To which Magistrate Mmesi posed prosecution the question, “Why is your charge sheet silent. There are important facts that should not be a secret. They should be stated in the charge sheet and they do not come out clear in this charge sheet.”

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The Police, represented by King Tshebo, were quick to retract, asking to amend their charge sheet.

The Police also told court they had intended to seek ATI’s continued remand as they suspect he may not be of sound mind.

“He poses a threat to himself and the public. We had hoped to take him for psychiatric evaluation,” revealed Tshebo.

Outside court, whilst his supporters and well-wishers taunted police officers, repeatedly chanting ‘Free ATI, Re bata lekhete’, when asked for a comment, the artist said, “They may charge me with uttering threats to the first citizen.

“This is not a matter of political affiliation, this is about right or wrong – I am with the People!”

Despite Boko fighting his corner, the ‘Khiring Khorong’ hit-maker maintains he is not politically aligned.

As he calmly lit up his cigarette, mixing the taste of freedom with the taste of tobacco, the man who brought Main Mall and the Central Police Station to a standstill added, “I feel supported. I feel motivated. A police cell is not a joke but it was not my first time being detained!”

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