Former soldier loses P5million lawsuit against BDF

Oleosi Kgosi
APPELANT: Kenneth Rapoo

Court of Appeal (CoA) has dismissed with costs a case in which a former soldier had demanded monetary compensation from the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force and Defence Council Chairman for loss of income after his service was terminated on medical grounds in April 2015.

Initially the High Court had dismissed the BDF former Deputy Director of Legal Services, Kenneth Rapoo’s declaratory order that the denial of his medical retirement entitlements was wrongful and last week the COA bench made up of Justices Leatile Dambe, Mercy Garekwe and Goemekgabo Tebogo-Maruping affirmed the high court ruling.

Rapoo’s problems began in 2008 when he developed severe back pain. Apparently, he was attended to at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) and later referred to Gaborone Private Hospital where he was diagnosed with chronic backache.

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Physiotherapy was recommended and he was advised for light duties. In 2012 he went for training in China and the problem continued. However, despite the pain he continued doing physical training whilst in China.

In 2015, Rapoo who was aged 44 then was called before the medical board and referred to a doctor who told him that his condition could have gotten worse from physical exertion.

The board finally recommended that he should be retired from military service and subsequently received a letter to that effect from the Commander stating that he was being retired on medical grounds.

The medical board’s opinion was that the principal disability was chronic low back pain and in recognition of the fact that the injury suffered by Rapoo caused him to be unfit to perform military duties, his assessment for disability rated at 40% with the maximum being 100%.

Rapoo therefore is being paid 40% of his salary, which he is going to earn for his lifetime.

Furthermore, he is an admitted attorney and had given evidence that his disability could be reversed if he gets medical attention.

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The CoA reasoned that the pension paid by the BDF caters for income and that the disability does not preclude him from practicing law, adding that he was only unfit for military duties.

Moreover, the pension caters for the loss of income as well as pain and suffering.

Rapoo had demanded his former employer to pay among the others, a total sum of P5, 000, 000.00 as compensation for pain and suffering, to be paid disability pension at 40% backdated from April 2015 to date and to be continued thereafter as well as to receive medical attention at Botswana Defence Force medical facilities.

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