A police officer has been accused of assaulting and killing an armed robbery suspect and conniving with other police officers to conceal the truth.â€¨Gaborone based private attorney, Martin Dingake suspects that Constable Mudongo Mudongo of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), formerly based at Molepolole Police Station has everything to do with the disappearance of the Molepolole man, Olefile Momphitlhi who went missing while on Police custody in 2011 under suspicious circumstances.
Dingake further blamed the Police for the mysterious disappearance of vital Police records that could have connected the Police to the brutality.
“Mr Mudongo, I put it to you that you assaulted Mr Olefile Momphitlhi and as a result of the assault you inflicted on him, he died whilst in your hands…I further put to you Mr Mudongo that you then disposed off his body…I put it to you Mr Mudongo that after disposing the body you went on a grand scheme from then up to today to conceal the truth and you refuse to take responsibility for the consequence of your actions,” Dingake challenged Mudongo before the Lobatse High court on Wednesday this week.
When Mudongo denied the accusation Dingake further accused him of peddling lies with intention to deceive the court and defeating the ends of justice.
“You know deep down what you did to Olefile Momphitlhi and his body and that you will do everything at your disposal to crash anything done by anyone seeking to expose the truth. And you lie, repeatedly and that is why you, Kristen and Phuku fail to state the facts of what transpired that night. Each one of you has a different story. You are not telling the truth,” Dingake asserted.
Kristen and Phuku are Police officers who were with Mudongo when Momphitlhi went missing, who have all denied ever laying a hand on him. However a suspect who was in the same police holding cell with Momphitlhi on the night of 7 August, 2011 told the court that he heard Momphitlhi’s agonising screams that night and that he knew that the Police were torturing him as they had threatened to do so if he refused to tell the truth about the getaway car which was used during the armed robbery.
The same cellmate, Mothusi Popego was a suspect in the same robbery case that Momphitlhi was arrested for and he told the court that he was also brutally assaulted by the same officers before Momphitlhi’s arrest.
Momphitlhi was the last of the three suspects in the armed robbery case to be arrested. He handed himself to the Police after hearing that they were looking for him. His car was used in the robbery a few days earlier at Taj filling station in Molepolole where about P300 000 was stolen.
Mudongo admitted before the court that he was excited upon arresting the last witness. Dingake then suggested that in the excitement, the officer assaulted the suspect when he could not give him the information he wanted.
Contradicting statements by Police Officers
All the Police witnesses who appeared before court maintained that Momphitlhi escaped at Old Naledi where he had led the police as he said the car was there. He had allegedly said the car was in his uncle’s possession.
However the three police officers who were with him then, differ on critical details of the alleged escape. In fact Mudongo dismissed some of the evidence brought forward by the Police as untrue. He also admitted that he had made errors in his own submissions before the court which Dingake found to be deliberate and well planned errors whose sole intention was to frustrate and destroy the evidence.
Dingake found several actions of the police in dealing with Momphitlhi quite suspicious. Firstly when the officers “took” Momphitlhi to Old Naledi they did not record the action in the occurrence book as is required by police procedure. Mudongo said they had forgotten to make the record. Secondly Mudongo said he had given Momphitlhi all his belongings which were taken from him at detention time. The property according to Mudongo included his mobile phone, cap and shoes.
Even the Judge found it strange that a suspect in an armed robbery could be given a mobile phone while in police custody but Mudongo said they had to give it to him so that if need arose, he could call the Uncle whom he said was in possession of the car.
Thirdly, the suspect was not hand cuffed when he left the police station and Mudongo said they found no need to bind his movement as they trusted him because he had handed himself to the police.
Also, the three officers submitted contradicting statements in regards to what exactly transpired at Old Naledi just before Momphitlhi’s escape. For instance, Kristen said they parked the car they were using some distance from the yard, but Mudongo said he was the one driving and he parked the car just by the gate.
Mudongo told the court that when Momphitlhi ran off, his partner Phuku shouted the words “O siile” meaning he had escaped. According to Dingake, the words had striking similarities to the words used in a text message sent to Momphitlhi’s younger brother, “Ke siile mo Mapodising….O bolelle Mme.”
A day after Momphitlhi’s disappearance his younger brother received the text message from a mobile phone which was later found to have been an exhibit in a different matter before the police.
Lastly Dingake found it strange that police records such as the cell register and prisoner’s property register disappeared from the police soon after the internal investigation on the missing man begun.
“I put to you that you and the officers you were with colluded to make sure that exhibits go missing. I further put it to you Mr Mudongo that you have something to do with the missing of the exhibits, the cell register and prisoner’s property register…I put it to you that the purported text and what you say Mr Phuku shouted suggests that it was part of the grand scheme to shift what the police had done,” Dingake further levelled the accusation.
Dingake represented Momphitlhi’s family in this matter. The trial continues next Month.
Gaborone Bonnignton South Member of Parliament (MP) Christian Greef has submitted a letter of complaint to party chairman Slumber Tosogwane to take stern action against former minister Dr Alfred Madigele for causing chaos in the constituency.
There has been simmering tension between the two in Gaborone Bonnignton South, where former minister Dr. Madigele is said to be busy working the ground with the intention of contesting the constituency in 2024. Greef is said to have fallen out of favour with the party top hierarchy due to his association with the beleaguered party secretary general Mpho Balopi, something which he says is “unfounded”. Greef told this publication that “there are some with mischievous attempts here, but I will sort them out.”
Insiders, however, reveal that it is Madigele who has been causing unrest in the constituency as he plots his comeback to parliament in 2024. This is notwithstanding the fact that Madigele has also been promised the position of secretary general, should the party faithful ratify a proposal by the party politburo to reconfigure the position.
However, Madigele does not want to count on the SG position, hence the decision to to contest the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. There are reports that there is a spirited campaign by some party members to reject a mulled plan to have the SG being a full-time employee of the party. This has irked Greef and has since approached the party structures for redress. “We are writing this letter to issue a complaint regarding misconduct by certain members of the BDP in our constituency.
There are several incidents where these individuals have been causing uncalled-for disruptions during party activities in Gaborone Bonnington South,” a letter penned by Greef, addressed to the regional chairperson, reads. He further added, “The group of people who are causing all these unnecessary tension in our constituency is identified and allegedly known by Madigele’s teams who is said to be campaigning for 2023 primary elections.
As the branch we witnessed the same team with similar misconduct during Bophirima Ward by election which we believe caused the party to lose the ward and continue to bring the image of the party in disrepute.” Lately, Madigele has relocated to the same constituency and that has created anxiety to Greef who is a first-time MP. Greef is concerned about how his rival was accepted in his constituency without his knowledge. If he had his wish, he would kick out Madigele from the constituency.
Greef, in another letter copied to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, says Madigele has brought the branch into disarray by campaigning for a parliamentary seat contrary to the party’s regulations for conduct of primary elections. “I therefore humbly appeal to you to call Dr Madigele, who is not a member of our branch, to order,” he said. Party officials in the region are aware of the matter; some say the MP’s complaint is baseless. However, the MP, according to sources, will fight to the bitter end to ensure that his arch rival is purged out.
Monthe and Marumo Attorneys who are representing suspended Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo in a legal dispute pitting him against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have said that they would submit a legal bill to the agency.
This was after DCEC’s acting Director General, Tshepo Pilane had written a letter to the law firm demanding that some files and documents belonging to the agency be returned. “We refer to your letter dated 3rd June 2022 wherein you advised of termination of our mandate. In view thereof we have to file a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record for and on behalf of the Organisation (DCEC),” Monthe Marumo Attorneys said in their letter.
The lawyers also indicated that, “the firm is in the process of finalizing your invoice and upon settlement of same, we will duly release the contents of the file, in so far as it relate to DCEC.” Pilane had informed the law firm that, “Following the Directorate’s termination of any and/or mandate between the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and your law firm and/or attorney of an Associate law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company on the 3rd June 2022.”
He added that, “I do hereby request that all DCEC documents in custody be returned to the DCEC on or before 12hours today the 6th June 2022. You are also informed that none of this information shall be used by your office under any circumstances.” Meanwhile Katlholo has told the High Court that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was on the rampage as it continues to act with impunity.
He revealed this in an urgent application in which he seeks among others that Pilane, Deputy Director General of DCEC Priscilla Israel and the agency’s senior legal advisor Edwin Batsalwelang to be committed to jail for contempt of a court. The Court order had directed that a deputy sheriff should collect files and dockets from the DCEC office and place them into the custody of the Court. “Consequent to the order of his Lordship, the DISS has continued on its rampage and has arrested two officers of the DCEC and detained them in a Hitler style arrangement,” said Katlholo.
He added that, quite clearly the “DISS with the assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents seeks to conceal all the evidence by obstructing Judicial process.” He said his latest current application has been brought at the earliest opportunity following defiance and acts of obstruction at the instance of the respondents. Katlholo saidthe conduct of the Pilane, Israel, Batsalelwang and DIS are an aggression on the rule of law, the Constitution of Botswana and the Judiciary in general.
“The DISS clearly has every intention of continuing to defy my rights and with the due assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Pilane, Israel and Batsalelwang). To refuse an interdict, thereby allowing the perpetration of an ongoing wrong is an anathema to the principle of legality,” said Katlholo. He said, “The DISS cannot be allowed to continue acting in contravention of the law, and to fragrantly invade an act of Parliament.”
He reiterated that the files or documents or dockets remain vulnerable and there is need that they be removed from the office and placed in the custody of the Registrar. There can never be a safe place than Court, said Katlholo. “Should the matter not be heard as urgent, the likelihood of the files concerned and the information therein dissipating or being interfered with is high and once the evidence of the concerned files has been compromised or contaminated there is no other relief in law that fix such, there is therefore no alternative remedy,” he said.
Katlholo added that, “Most importantly, any unwarranted access to the files may compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations and expose informants and whistleblowers. Once they have been compromised, no court action may restore such.” He said it was necessary and extremely urgent that the Court steps in to protect the rule of law against the respondents, more particularly the DIS and its agents.
The United States through its State Department’s annual report on global religious freedoms is keeping tabs on Botswana’s decision to arrest of controversial pastor Thuso Tiego by the police.
The report was released a week ago. Tiego was re-arrested this week by the police after he allegedly attempted to spearhead a campaign aimed at shutting down some shops that are run by foreigners. The US’ State Department report says Police arrested a pastor from the Bethel Transfiguration Church September 7 when he tried to deliver a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi demanding his resignation over what the pastor said was mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pastor, Thuso Tiego, also criticized the government for restricting religious gatherings at a time when he said that individuals turned to churches for counselling and support during the pandemic,” the report says. It says Tiego was held overnight at a police station and released without charge. The report cites media reports saying that several of his supporters were beaten by police when they gathered outside the station demanding Tiego’s release.
“The national police service did not announce any disciplinary action against the officers involved,” the report says adding that, “The constitution provides for freedom of religion, with certain exceptions, and protection against governmental discrimination based on creed.” On other related issues, the report said the government continued to pursue court cases involving unregistered churches (sometimes called “fire churches”) coming into the country to “take advantage of” local citizens by demanding tithes and donations for routine services or special prayers.
“The government required pastors of some of those churches to apply for visas – even those from countries whose nationals were normally allowed visa-free entry. The government said in June 2019 that it was reviewing the visa policy for these foreign pastors, but by year’s end had not released the results of this review or announced any changes,” the report says. According to the report, former members of one of the most prominent unregistered churches forced to close in 2019, the Enlightened Christian Gathering, subsequently formed their own smaller, independent churches with local leadership that was ultimately registered by the government.
The report says, under the COVID-19 state of emergency that ended in September, the government limited attendance at religious services to no more than 50 persons at one time and limited services to twice a week. The government also banned all religious gatherings during “extreme social distancing” periods. Although the limits on religious gatherings lasted 18 months and prevented some individuals from fully practicing their faith, most religious groups did not say their freedom of religion was being restricted and stated that the extraordinary measures were necessary for public health
The report says the US Embassy officials engaged with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and other religious representatives to discuss religious freedom, interreligious relations, and community engagement. “Topics included government tolerance of minority religious groups, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious expression, and interfaith cooperation to address community challenges,” the report says.
The report says under its broader protections of freedom of conscience, the constitution provides for freedom of thought and religion, the right to change religion or belief, and the right to manifest and propagate religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance. It says the constitution’s provision of rights also prohibits discrimination based on creed.
The constitution permits the government to restrict these rights in the interest of protecting the rights of other persons, national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health when the restrictions are deemed “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.” “The state of emergency imposed from March 2020 to September 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which capped the size of regular religious gatherings and meetings, was the first time the government ever exercised this provision,” the report says.