Monday, October 18, 2021

Half the bad news: Images of rioting students caught on camera

In lifting a laptop from the campus bookstore, a rioting University of Botswana student may also have booked himself a bunk bed at the First Offenders Prison whose lookout towers he can probably see from the upper stands of the varsity stadium. The Block D bed may be a bridge too far but when classes at UB resume on March 6, not all students will immediately go back to class. To use the coded language of the police, some will “assist in investigations”, an innocuous-sounding phrase that suggests some collaborative sleuthing when the reality is a little too grim.

To the question of whether the university has been able to identify the ring leaders of a strike that caused thousands of pula in damage, all the UB spokesperson, Mhitshane Reetsang, would say was that the university has surveillance cameras.

With regard to the account of the student stealing the laptop in the bookstore, a source says that the image is so crisp that under different circumstances, the subject may want to print and put it in a frame ÔÇô or for his times and generation, use as a Facebook profile picture. For the police, it is just the sort of picture that significantly cuts down the man-hours that go into an investigation. Apparently, the student in question is very well-known around campus. Other images reportedly show other students looting books from the campus bookstore.

For the culprits, being caught on camera is only half the bad news. It is unclear how the culprit-identification process will go but that is something that will definitely happen. Reetsang could not confirm whether UB Protection Services has an intelligence unit that recruits and deploys student informers. The latter would be useful in the identification process. All Reetsang would say was that she had full confidence in the Protection Services and that it had did a thorough job during the strike.

When classes resume, there will be disciplinary process against culprits and extreme cases will be referred to the Botswana Police Service which, in turn, will set the prosecution process in motion. Charges are likely to be malicious damage to property and theft.

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