Connect with us
Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading

News

No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

Continue Reading

News

Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

Continue Reading

News

Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!