Saturday, June 22, 2024

Former police operations chief proposes permanent solution to CIT robberies

You will know Kenny Kapinga as Okavango MP but before his foray into politics, he was a senior police officer and was expected to succeed Thebeyame Tsimako as Commissioner of Police. Then, according to the grapevine, he fell out with then President Ian Khama, who shunted him off to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with his trade mark “with immediate effect” move. There Kapinga’s tour of duty took him to South Africa and later Zimbabwe from where he retired into politics.

At the time of his redeployment from the Botswana Police Service (BPS), Kapinga had served a very long stint as Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations. His LinkedIn page says that in this position, he was responsible for strategic direction of policing, liaising with criminal justice stakeholders in addressing crime-related issues as well as with other countries on public security issues and crime trend analysis. He was also responsible for “ensuring continuous improvement of criminal investigation capabilities and public policing initiatives.”

On the basis of his work experience, Kapinga is more than qualified to offer insights into how the current spate of cash-in-transit (CIT) armed robberies can be arrested. The CIT trucks belong to private security companies and in compliance with the law, the crews don’t carry firearms. The latter condition has made it easy for armed robbers to attack these trucks and make away with huge sums (millions) of money. In response, the government took a very costly decision to provide armed escort from three arms of force: BPS, Botswana Defence Force and the Directorate of Intelligence Services and Security (DISS).

While Kapinga lauds this decision, he also identifies its shortcomings.

“Security companies pay tax to government and are entitled to benefit from such taxes where circumstances dictate. I believe that it was essential for the police to provide the escorts at a time when CIT events were spiralling out of control but it should not have been made a permanent solution,” he says.

The reason he gives for the latter is that “it will be very costly to the government to maintain this arrangement indefinitely.” For his part, he articulates a less costly, more sustainable four-point plan under the auspices of specialised BPS task teams that he believes the government should have been put in place in the meantime. Such teams would undertake intensive gathering; consist of rapid response teams using both helicopters and motor vehicles; specialised investigating teams; and a dedicated prosecution team from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

As either a reflection of the quality of DPP lawyering or a direct result of firm legal prescription, one too many armed robbery suspects have been given bailed by magistrate courts. In some cases, these suspects have wasted no time re-offending. Down the road, the Minister of Justice will bring to parliament, an amendment bill that Kapinga and fellow MPs will debate. The bill will essentially seek to make it difficult for armed robbery suspects to get bail. That revelation was made by DISS’ Director-General, Peter Magosi, when he appeared before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee in May this year. Magosi said that police officers, especially junior ones, are “frustrated” about robbers routinely getting bail when they risk their lives to apprehend them.

Within BPS itself and indeed among members of the public, magistrate courts are seen to not be helping the situation because the success rate of bail applications by armed robbers is literally dangerously high. Interestingly, it is not that magistrates are pro-robbers but are merely applying law that makes it easy for robbers to get bail. That is the gap the government plans to close with the bill Magosi told the PAC about.


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