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Police killed suspect, concealed evidence – Lawyer


A police officer has been accused of assaulting and killing an armed robbery suspect and conniving with other police officers to conceal the truth.
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.

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Seretse, Kgosi may walk free

30th October 2020
BAKANG SERETSE

The P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga that has been before court since 2017 seems to be losing its momentum with a high possibility of it being thrown out as defence lawyers unmask incompetency on the part of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The Gaborone High Court this week ruled that the decision by the State to prosecute Justice Zein Kebonang and his twin brother, Sadique Kebonang has been reviewed and set aside. The two brothers have now been cleared of the charges that where laid against them three years ago.

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Understanding the US Electoral College and key election issues 

28th October 2020
Mark J Rozell

The United States (US) will on the 3rd of November 2020 chose between incumbent Donald Trump of the Republicans and former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democrats amid the coronavirus pandemics, which has affected how voting is conducted in the world’s biggest economy.

Trump (74) seeks re-election after trouncing Hillary Clinton in 2016, while Biden (77) is going for his first shot as Democratic nominee after previous unsuccessful spells.

US Presidents mostly succeed in their re-election bid, but there have been nine individuals who failed to garner a second term mandate, the latest being George W H. Bush, a Republican who served as the 41st US President between 1989 and 1993.

Dr Mark Rozell, a Dean of  the School of Policy and Government at George Mason University  in  Arlington, Virginia describes the complex US electoral system that will deliver the winner at the 3rd November elections.

“The founders of our Republic de-centralised  authority  significantly  in  creating  our  constitutional  system,  which  means that  they  gave  an  enormous  amount  of  independent  power  and  authority  to  State  and  local governments,” Dr Rozell told international media on Elections 2020 Virtual Reporting Tour.

Unlike  parliamentary  democracies, like Botswana the  United  States  does  not  have  all  of  the  national government elected in one year. They do not have what is commonly called mandate elections where  the  entire  federal  government  is  elected  all  in  one  election  cycle  giving  a  “mandate”  to  a particular political party to lead, and instead US have what are called staggered elections, elections over time.

The two house Congress, members of the House of Representatives have two-year long terms of office. Every two years the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, but senators  serve  for  six  years  and  one  third  of  the  Senate is elected every  two  years.

For this election cycle, US citizens will be electing the President and Vice

President, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the open or contested seats in the Senate, whereas two thirds are still fulfilling the remainder of their terms beyond this year.

An  important  facet  of  US electoral  system  to  understand  given  the  federalism  nature  of  the republic, the US elect presidents State by State, therefore they do not have a national popular vote for the presidency.

“We have a national popular vote total that says that Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump or in Year 2000 that Al Gore got a half million more votes than George W. Bush, but we have what is called a State by State winner takes all system where each State  is  assigned  a  number  of  electors  to  our  Electoral  College  and  the  candidate  who  wins  the popular vote within each State takes 100 percent of the electors to the Electoral College,” explained Dr Rozell.

“And that is why mathematically, it is possible for someone to win the popular vote but lose the presidency.”

Dr Rozell indicated that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won very large popular majorities in some big population States like California, but the system allows a candidate to only have to  win  a  State  by  one  vote  to  win  a  100 percent of  its  electors,  the  margin  does  not  matter.

“Donald  Trump  won  many  more  States  by  smaller  margins,  hence  he  got  an  Electoral  College majority.”

Another interesting features by the way of US constitutional system, according to Dr Rozell, but extremely rare, is what is called the faithless elector.

“That’s the elector to the Electoral College who says, ‘I’m not going to vote the popular vote in my State, I think my State made a bad decision and I’m going  to  break  with  the  popular  vote,’’ Dr Rozell said.

“That’s constitutionally a very complicated matter in our federalism system because although the federal constitution says electors may exercise discretion, most States have passed State laws making it illegal for any elector to the Electoral College to break faith with the popular vote of that State, it is a criminal act that can be penalized if one is to do that. And we just had an important Supreme Court case that upheld the right of the states to impose and to enforce this restriction”

There are 538 electors at the Electoral College, 270 is the magic number, the candidate who gets 270 or more becomes President of the United States.

If however there are more candidates, and  this  happens  extremely  rarely,  and  a  third  candidate  got  some electors  to  the  Electoral  College  denying  the  two  major  party  candidates,  either  one  getting  a majority, nobody gets 270 or more, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and the House of Representatives votes among the top three vote getters as to who should be the next President.

“You’d have to go back to the early 19th century to have such a scenario, and that’s not going to happen this year unless there is a statistical oddity, which would be a perfect statistical tie of 269 to 269 which could happen but you can just imagine how incredibly unlikely that is,” stated Dr Rozell.

BLUE STATES vs RED STATES

Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.

Many  states  have  populations  that  are  so  heavily  concentrated  in  the  Democratic party or the Republican party that there is really no competition in those states.

California is a heavily Democratic State, so is New York and Maryland. It is given that Joe Biden will win those states. Meanwhile Texas, Florida and Alabama are republicans. So, the candidates will spent no time campaigning in those states because it is already a given.

However there are swing  states, where  there is a competition between about five and 10 states total in each election cycle that make a difference, and that is where the candidates end up spending almost all of their time.

“So  it  ends  up  making  a  national  contest  for  the  presidency  actually  look  like  several  state-wide contests with candidates spending a lot of time talking about State and local issues in those parts of the country,” said Dr Rozell.

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Masisi to make things right with Dangote

26th October 2020

High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.

Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana.  “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.

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