A former notorious criminal residing in Old Naledi has opened a case in which he accuses the Old Naledi police of vandalizing his premises.
In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Gabaresepe Belebese claimed that his house was raided twice in two months because it was suspected to be a haven for escaped criminals.
In the past months, four criminals have escaped under police custody, the first one, Botsi Kefitile, who was a separate case from the other three, was the first to escape and the first to be apprehended.
Of the other three, one of them was apprehended while two are still at large. Each time the criminals escaped, Belebese, who is commonly known as, “Block” to Old Naledi residents, said the police would raid his premises and terrorize his tenants as well as break down his house in search of things he was not aware of.
When we arrived at his premises, where he runs a Chibuku depot, Belebese showed us the damage that was allegedly done to his doors by the police this past Tuesday when they searched his grounds. The search came just after news of the escaped ‘three’ reached the public, he said.
Belebese said that the second raid was done in his absence and he only found out when he came to a home of broken doors. He alleges that he had about P6 000 cash to buy new stock which went missing during the raid.
“All I want is for the police to compensate me for the damage done to my premises. They have also put a damper on my business; people don’t want to drink here anymore because they are always harassed by the police. The P6 000 that has gone missing was also supposed to buy stock for my business, now everything is at a standstill because of that,” said Belebese.
He claims that he doesn’t know why the police keep raiding his yard every time criminals escape from custody.
“After all, I haven’t been in jail for about 11 years,” he said, adding that the police are busy destroying a reputation he has been building for years.
“The life of crime is behind me now,” he stated.
The first criminal who escaped, Kefitile, was once a resident of Old Naledi and he used to drink at Belebese’s compound but that’s where their relations ended, he said.
“They are also harassing my customers, when they came looking for him, there were about four or five cars as well as a helicopter. They forced everyone to lie down and my doors were kicked down. After that the one who wasn’t wearing a uniform but was obviously in charge told me that if anything had been ruined I should report it to the police and not him; I did and the commander advised me to open a case,” said Belebese.
Station Commander of the Old Naledi Police Station, Titus Molatlhwa, told the Sunday Standard that Belebese is obviously lying about the missing money.
He said that, apparently, Belebese has a tendency of claiming that his things are missing and that behavior is typical of someone with a past like his.
Molatlhwa said that after the Kefitile escaped, Belebesi came to them and claimed that his doors had been broken and they took a statement from him. He never advised Belebese to open a case as he claimed. He said that Belebese has a tendency of “conveniently being absent” when the police knew that he was around. He said that the police would not just raid anyone’s yard without justifiably cause and that if Belebese was an honest person he wouldn’t have gone to this length only to discredit himself.
A source who refused to be named told The Sunday Standard that there was enough evidence pointing that the first escapee, Kefitile, had actually spent a night at Belebese’s place, that is why the police first went to his house. Convinced that he had hid the first suspect, they were also of the view that he might have hid the other escapees because he now had a reputation for shielding escapees.
As for Molatlhwa, his story is that when the two escapees went rogue, the police went into each depot bringing the tally to a total of five or so depots raided in Old Naledi. He said that they knew that the first place the escapees would run to, would be a depot.
“When criminals are on the run, it’s within the law for us to search people’s premises, in such critical time; there is no time for search warrants. It’s also within the law for every citizen to report to the police if they feel that their premises were vandalized, even by one of our own, however our story is that he is lying,” said Molatlhwa when asked if any rights are being violated when the police break into someone’s house without permission.