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Jazz artists entangled in copyright infringement claims

Leungo Mokgwathi
Thabang Garogwe & Lister Boleseng

Veteran saxophonist Lister Boleseng may have shot himself in the foot after aggressively accusing Thabang Garogwe of ‘stealing his melody to use it in his own song’, only to be informed that the song in question was released in 2013, ten years before Boleseng’s.

Now the two talented musicians are embroiled in a bitter battle to prove who is the real thief.

The Voice Entertainment spoke to both parties, who confirmed that their ongoing dispute, which is being heard by the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) started two weeks ago, when a clearly vexed Boleseng called Garogwe late at night to confront him for stealing parts of his song Pelo yame which was the title track of his 2023 album Music sent by the Lord.

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Voice Entertainment is in possession of a conversation between the two, in which Garogwe who seemed astonished, pointed out that such was impossible, as his song Sebolae Mosadi was released ten years ago in 2013.

In response to this, Boleseng told this publication that Garogwe recently released a rearranged version of the song, which bore parts of Pelo Yame in the intro, body and ending.

“Unlike Thabang, I am a musician who writes and reads music; I understand progression and song arrangement which is why I could tell that my melody had been used in his song without my consent,” he said.

As distressed and disappointed as he was that his craft had been stolen, Boleseng says that he was willing to let the issue go, that was until Thabang became disrespectful and later ran to the media to feed them lies in order to push a narrative in favour of himself.

Now, he is determined to explore the issue to the very end.

Garogwe however denies there ever being a second version of Sebolae Mosadi, underlining that the song was released in 2013 and has maintained its original composition since.

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“He came at me aggressively, only to find out that he was in the wrong and instead of apologising because these things happen,especially in a industry as small as ours where we sometimes share band members, he became aggressive, still insisting that I was the thief.”

Both parties are eager to set the record straight about who the song belongs to, and have engaged COSBOTS to clear it up on their behalf since they failed to arrive at a point on their own.

On Tuesday morning, Garogwe met COSBOTS to present his side of the story. Boleseng is supposedly next.

Copyright Infringement which is listed under Botswana’s Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act is a criminal offense punishable by a fine between P20 000 and P500 000, no more than ten years in prison, or both.

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