The former Assistant Commissioner of the Police, Milton Mapange
The family of Ofentse Momphitlhi, an armed robbery suspect who allegedly went missing when in police custody is not content with the police evidence before court and wants to open a fresh case so that they can seek expert evidence to boost their case against the State.
The family, which strongly believes their son was killed by the police, want expert opinion so that they can expose police involvement in the alleged “manslaughter and possible concealing of the body.”
“We are thinking of opening a fresh case because we want to call in more witnesses. The family has already given me the instruction,” revealed the family legal representative, Martin Dingake.
The decision to request Justice Rainer Busang to allow for new evidence was taken after the state closed its case on Thursday this week without explaining some key questions, including details of how Momphitlhi’s mobile number was used.
The former Assistant Commissioner of the Police, Milton Mapange who was the last witness insisted that Momphitlhi escaped from lawful custody but denied ever discovering that his mobile phone became active the very same day he escaped.
Evidence which Mapange compiled from the cellular phone network companies detailed the mobile number’s activity including calls which the family insists were made by some of the Molepolole Police officers.
Momphitlhi is said to have escaped on the 8th August, 2011 in Old Naledi location in Gaborone, whilst in the company of three Molepolole Police officers. The three officers who had already appeared before court had stated that they had taken him to his uncle’s place in Old Naledi where he claimed he had kept the car which was used in an armed robbery. The officers contended that they did not handcuff him and gave him his mobile phone so that he could call his uncle if need arose.
However this week in court, the Investigating officer, Mapange contradicted their statements and said the officers had told him the car which they were looking for was the one Momphitlhi bought with the proceeds of the armed robbery.
He further denied that the officers never made any formal statements regarding the escape of the suspect prior to the police internal investigations. Notwithstanding this, one of the officers, Mudongo Mudongo told the court that they had made the statement and that he was hearing it for the first time in court that the statement was missing or never made.
“I told you it was a lie. I investigated and found that the statement was never made and I told him because I wanted the statements, so he knew,” Mapange told the court.
However Mapange insisted that he believed that Momphitlhi had indeed escaped from lawful custody and charged the three officers with negligence and aiding a prisoner to escape.
When he was asked whether he ever followed the calls that were made on Momphitlhi’s mobile phone, Mapange said he never did. The phone was active from the day of escape and even when Mapange received the activity data on November 30th, 2011, the phone was still active.
Mapange further stated that he never investigated the phone communications of the three officers even though some of the evidence mysteriously went missing during the course of his investigations.
During the investigation period, the cell record, prisoner’s property record and a mobile phone which Momphitlhi supposedly used to send a text message to his brother informing him of his escape, went missing. The cellphone used was an exhibit in a different matter and at the time it was used, it was supposedly in police custody. Meanwhile when Momphitlhi escaped he is said to have been carrying his own mobile phone which was handed to him by the police.
Mapange also explained that during the time of internal investigations, the three officers were not suspended because he did not believe they could destroy evidence. He further explained that even though some of the evidence went missing a suspected break in of theft case was never opened.
“I asked the Station Commander for the missing items and he told me he searched for them and he had not found them,” Mapange told the court.
The case before Justice Busang of Lobatse High Court was brought by Momphitlhi family of Molepolole who want the police to reveal the whereabouts of their son, who has been missing since police detention in August 2011.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.