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Mystery of missing man who vanished in police custody

The Botswana Police Service boss, Keabetswe Makgophe and several police officers were this week subpoenaed before the Lobatse High court to answer for the whereabouts of a Molepolole man who went missing from police custody in August 2011 under mysterious circumstances.

The Botswana Police Service boss, Keabetswe Makgophe and several police officers were this week subpoenaed before the Lobatse High court to answer for the whereabouts of a Molepolole man who went missing from police custody in August 2011 under mysterious circumstances.


The family of the “missing man”, Olefile Momphitlhi suspects that he was killed by the police on the night of his arrest and was in court the whole of this week demanding that the police give them their son.


“The last time Olefile was with his brother was when he entered the Molepolole Police station in September, 2011 and all we want from the Police is to give us back our son. Only the Police know where he is,” the family representative, Mpho Laolang told the court.


An undisputed fact before Justice Railer Busang of the Lobatse High court is that Olefile was detained at Molepolole Police station on the fateful day but the main contention is about his alleged escape from legal custody. The Police maintained that Olefile escaped from legal custody and his family maintains that his disappearance reeks of foul play.


“There was a point when we suspected that our missing son might have been buried in a newly dug grave at Masu-a-ditshwene cemetery and we asked the police to investigate the grave. The mysterious grave emerged a few days after we were told our son escaped from police custody. A few days after we reported the matter to the police we discovered that the grave has sunken, raising suspicion that whatever that was put there earlier had been exhumed,” Laolang speculated and was overruled by the court over the matter.


Olefile is a suspect in an armed robbery case that took place at Taj filling in Molepolole where about P100 000 cash was stolen. Olefile is alleged to have transported the robbers in his car. After the police came looking for him at his mother’s house, he went to the police station with his brother and a cousin and he was detained as he was to appear for mention at the Molepolole Magistrate court with other suspects the following morning.


The following morning when the brother went to check on him at the Police station he was told that he had escaped the previous night from Police custody. The police alleges that Olefile escaped somewhere in old Naledi where he had led three Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers to the car that was allegedly used during the robbery. The Police had admitted negligence before the High court over this matter.


“That the suspect is still at large since 07/08/11 and was reported missing by his parents, further that the suspects was last seen with the defaulters (Kristen, Modongo and Phuku) the inference that can be drawn is that the BPS knows his whereabouts,” the police disciplinary committee wrote in one of the BPS internal investigations documents which the court forced the Police Commissioner to submit this week.

Cause for suspicion

Although Makgophe and his officers maintains that Olefile escaped from lawful custody the family is not convinced and want the Police to explain the text message that was sent to Olefile’s brother soon after the alleged escape.

The text message written, (translated) “I have escaped to South Africa. I’ll return next year. Tell Mum,” later emerged that it was sent through a mobile phone which was an exhibit in a different matter which was under police investigations.

The owner of the phone admitted before the court that his mobile phone together with the simcard was in custody of the Molepolole Police. However it could not be produced as evidence because it has since disappeared together with vital police records, including cell register and occurrence book that covered the period when Olefile was detained.


Olefile’s co-accused in the robbery case, Mothusi Popego told the court that when the police officers removed Olefile from the cell that night, they threatened that they will kill him unless he tells them where the vehicle and some of the money they got from the robbery were kept.


According to Popego, the police officers had beaten and tortured Olefile before locking him up and his screams could be heard from the detaining cells where other co-accused were kept.


“When they removed him from the cell that night he was chained and I saw them through a tiny window on the cell door that they pushed him into a car and drove off,” Popego bore witness before court.


The Police have however denied that they had chained him when they left Molepolole police station that night.


“On the date mentioned in the charge sheet, the investigating team decided to interrogate the said Olefile and took him out of the cells at about 2300 hours at Molepolole Police station. During the interview, the said Olefile indicated to the investigation team that an exhibit pertaining to the robbery case he was interrogated for was at Old Naledi, Gaborone.

The investigating team then gave the suspect all the properties which included shoes, hat and belt but did not handcuff him and drove to Old Naledi. At Old Naledi the suspect took the investigating team to a certain yard which he alleged to be his uncles and it was at the place where the suspect disappeared,” the police maintained before court.


However the fact that the investigating team failed to immediately report the incident to the police raised great suspicion that they could have been hiding something. In fact the Old Naledi Police has distanced itself from the matter and told the court that to date no formal report on the incident was ever reported at their station.


Evidence that was forced from the Police Commissioner through a court order suggests that nobody in old Naledi ever saw the investigating team in company of Olefile. The internal investigations suggested that there was no reasonable justification why the suspect was transported at night and not handcuffed. According to evidence submitted before court, the law does not provide for night search.


The former Station Commander of Molepolole Police station, Andrew Bosilong has also stated in an interview outside court that his officers never reported the incident to him. Bosilong said he only learnt about the missing man when his family logged a complaint on the matter.


This was so because after removing Olefile from the cell, the officers did not record themselves in the occurrence book as is required by police procedure.

The Investigating team

The investigating team which included, Inspector Thatayaone Kristen, Constables Modongo Modongo and Bonani Phuku have since appeared before the police disciplinary hearing in 2012 and were found guilty of “gross negligence and permitting a prisoner to escape”.


Phuku and Modongo were each fined P200 and dismissed from service in November 2012. However on appeal before the Police Council that included, Reverend Mpho Moruakgomo, Adolph Hirschfeld, Sadique Kebonang, Hermentina Mogami amongst others, their sentences were reversed and they were reinstated and transferred to other Police stations outside the Kweneng region.


However Inspector Thatayaone Kristen was demoted from the rank of Sergeant and his salary reduced to a lower notch and was also transferred to another Police station.


Meanwhile the Police still claims that there are still in pursuit of Olefile. In May 2012 the Botswana police Services (BPS) inquired from INTERPOL, South Africa as to whether Olefile had somehow crossed to the neighbouring country, but the response was that, “subject (Olefile) has been checked in the movement control system and the last movement was from South Africa into Botswana via Schilpadhek (Tlokweng border) by foot on 17 June 2011 at 1750 hours.”

According to Interpol, Olefile was in Botswana.

In the enquiry, the police had described Olefile as a dangerous man and the message they gave to Interpol was that his “anonymity or privacy is not protected by the applicable national laws,” and that if traced the South Africans must “take all appropriate measures” in accordance with their national laws when dealing with him.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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