BOTSWANA PRISONS COMMISSIONER: Silas Motlalekgosi has added a star to his badge
The Botswana Prisons Service Commissioner, Silas Motlalekgosi has stirred controversy in the disciplined forces after introducing a star on his barge of rank, a decision that seems to have rubbed the Botswana Police Service the wrong way.
The Police view the decision as an ambitious exercise by the Prisons Chief to appear to be at par with the Police Chief in terms of seniority and power.
Weekendpost can reveal that the gigantic Commissioner recently introduced a star on his badge of rank,allegedly to hike his standing and honorability.
Motlalekgosi, a man described as so obsessed with power has reportedly been haunted by the disparities between the disciplined forces. His view and concern is that the three should be treated equally,a thing he believes is not not only happening but far from happening.
We sought a clarification from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Segakweng Tsiane who said she would not know about issues of badges as they are departmental. She refered this publication to the Commissioner of Prisons for answers.
According to the Prisons Act, the Commissioner has sweeping powers over badges of rank. “Unless the Commissioner otherwise directs, a prison officer on duty shall wear the approapriate badges of rank prescribed in the Fouth Schedule,” it reads.
The Act stipulates that the Commissioner’s Badge is made up of ‘a crest over crest sorrounded by laurel wreth,a collar gorgettes with silver oak leaf spray and a double silver oak leaf spray on peak of cap.’ The Prisons Commissioner’s controversial move to up his standing by an indian star has angered the police service and has been a matter of discussion within the police service high powererd plartfoms and meetings, this publication has learnt.
The Police posit that the decision by the Prisons Commander is not only ill–adviced but over ambitious and notorious. They are of the view that the decision was undoutedly calculated not only to match the Police Commissioner but to also potray the two as equal in honour and standing.
Asked about the star in their Commissioner ‘s badge of rank, the Spokesperson of the Police Service, Christopher Mbulawa said, “a star was introduced during former Commissioner Norman Moleboge’s times.” He declined to discuss the specifics and significance of the items on the badge questioning this reporter’s motives.He later refered this reporter to his juniors.
The Police Commissioner’s badge of rank is made of Crossed tith staves rounded by a wreath,a star and a national amblem above while that of a BDF Commander is made of a Knife,national emblem and a stick of honour.
We Spoke to the former Commissioner of Police, Moleboge on this development and history.
“When a star was introduced it was a symbol of honour and respect.Back then we had what we called bars on the badge and we thought they didn’t communicate anything at that time hence our decision to develop the badge,” he said.
Asked over the differences between the Prisons Service and Police badges for rank of Commissioners, Moleboge replied that “they never looked the same and did not come close to each other as far as I am concerned,” he said.
He however remarked that issues of power and seniority between the Police and the Prisons services together with the Botswana Defence Force have always been there and that they will not end now until the rulers declare who is above the other.
“We mostly relied on the structures of payments to determine who is senior,” he said.The BDF Commander earns more than the Police Commissioner who earns more than the Prisons Commissioner.
Moleboge however says this has got its own complexities and can often mislead as there are other senior officials like Permanent Secretaries and those at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes who earn more than the said Commissioners.
Moleboge ‘s counterpart who is the former Prisons Commissioner,Herman Kau declined to comment demanding to know where this reporter obtained his mobile number.He declared the conversation an exercise in futility when the reporter expressed discomfort with divulging where he obtained the number.
“ When we parted we agreed that my number will not be a public matter and will only be released by certain individuals under some circumstances,” he said.
But who is really senior?
The Police in the Neighbouring South Africa earn more that the army but Botswana has got her own discrepancies and overlaps between the police and the army.The Prisons officers are trailing at the far end.
Locally, the Police argue that Prisons officers are just the guards who look after the criminals once convicted through the police’s work. Army oficers are often ridiculed because there really is never conflict or wars that would require their service.
A senior Police officer outlined their responsibility to us saying they are senior and deserve respect. “Our responsibilities define us and set us apart.We deal with a lot of paperwork,we hunt,we arrest,we investigate,we enforce the law,we got to the courts and so fourth.None of these two come close to this,” he charged.
Prisons officers however argue that all should be judged according to the execution of their mandate and nothing else. “We are the guardians and stay with prisoners for the most part of their lives,we look after them,we rehabilitate and perfom other duties like going to the courts amongst others,” said a source.
Conditions of Service and Welfare
Life has not been easy for Prisons officers. It is understood that the recruits have recently been training using their own clothes after they were told that there is no uniform.
This doesn’t only end with recruits, officers argue that during winter they are seen with only one jersey while their counterparts from BDF and Police wear various sweaters and different jackets of different makes, for various weather conditions.
The Prisons Act stipulates that Officers should wear a Khakhi suit with long sleeves in winter.The officers argue that they have given up on salary structure amendments as the government seems to be biased in favour of the BDF and the Police.
Asked over why the Prisons officers are subjected to the harsh treatment, particularly in winter, the Permanent Secretary, Tsiang fell shot of blaming the Prisons department.
“No, if there is a problem then it has to be departmental. They determine their uniform so for them to blame us is unfortunate,” she said.
This was reinterated by Moleboge who said that “uniform is a departmental issue but often heavily relies on one ‘s budget”.
The Police also argue that they are the victims of the yawning gaps between their salary structures with those who are above them either by a step or two.The Prisons Commissioner could not comment as he said he was in a long meeting at the time of going to press.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.