Botswana Police Service (BPS) has made a breakthrough in a case which riled law enforcement agencies and Batswana the last several weeks. Police say they have identified 30-year-old, Thato Gaopatwe, as the mastermind behind the attack and theft of arms and ammunition at Goodhope police station early this month.
Gaopatwe is regarded as one of the most dangerous career criminals in Botswana specialising in cash in transit (CIT) heists and armed robberies between Botswana and South Africa. Highly placed sources within the intelligence circles have tipped this publication that some highly ranked law enforcement personnel in South Africa are under investigation following suspicion that they acted in concert with Gaopatwe.
It is understood that Goapatwe is so experienced that while in custody, he planned and brought together highly skilled criminals from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa to stage robberies. It is understood that Gaopatwe often has communication gadgets within his cell without the knowledge of the prison officials.
This publication understands that some of the stolen arms and ammunition are suspected to have been smuggled into South Africa where they are believed to have been used to gun down about 16 people in one of the taverns in Soweto a few days ago.
Detective senior commissioner of Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CRIB), Nunu Lesetedi, confirmed to Weekend Post in an interview that one of the most wanted criminals in Botswana has been fingered as the mastermind behind the Goodhope police station robbery.
“Our preliminary investigations have revealed that Gaopatwe is the mastermind of the whole mission,” he says. He said police investigations have intensified in-search of the stolen arms and ammunition through the assistance of the South African authorities. “At the moment, the main suspect is in custody in South Africa after he was allegedly involved in a series of criminal activities in that country,” he said.
“What worried and shocked us as the law enforcement agencies between Botswana and South Africa is the fact that the poor guy is able to arrange and plan a criminal activity while behind bars and such plans are executed exactly how he planned it.
Who is assisting him? he asked.
He said the recent heists and attempts that have been taking place here in Botswana are masterminded by Gaopatwe. He stated that once he completes his prison sentence in South Africa he will be extradited to Botswana where he is highly wanted and accused of a series of criminal activities across the country.
Already two suspects have been arrested in connection with the Goodhope police station incident where four unidentified men attacked and robbed the station. Two female police officers were allegedly on duty during the attack.
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”