Monday, October 26, 2020

Investigations into shooting of 10 civilians last year still in progress

Botswana Police Service Public Relations Officer Superintendent Christopher Mbulawa says that investigations are still continuing into cases which led to the shooting of 10 civilians by security agents in the past year.

Mbulawa said that, at the moment, he does not know if any of the security agents who were involved would be charged with any offences.

He said the decision whether anyone will be charged is made by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions after they have carefully studied the reports they will have produced.
Asked why their investigations are taking such a long time, Mbulawa explained that this is so because investigations involve a lot of people, like witnesses who would have witnessed the alleged killing and that such people are at times difficult to trace to record their evidence.

On the credibility of such investigations, which are carried out by security agents who are expected to investigate their colleagues and, at times, produce incriminating reports against them, Mbulawa said that their reports on such matters are always credible as after they have completed the report it is handed to the DPP who assess the evidence and come up with charges based on their reports.
The DPP, he explained, is independent of them and will not cover up if the security agents had gone out of their way and used arms where it was not necessary.

That the process is transparent, Mbulawa said, is proven by the fact that in the past some police officers were charged, convicted and dismissed from the Service after it was found that they were responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians.

”We have two cases in which police officers were charged , convicted, sentenced then dismissed from the Service because they were found to have been responsible for the death of suspects. This shows how transparent our system is,” he stressed.

Some lawyers recently called for the formation of an Independent Complaints Board to investigate such cases, saying that they doubt that police officers could fully investigate their own colleagues.

Mbulawa also denied that, at times, the agents, including the police, become overzealous whilst conducting their operations and use maximum force where it is not needed, resulting in unnecessary deaths.

He said that no agent in his right mind would do that as they know quite well that such incidents are always investigated and if there is evidence of wrong doing such officers are charged.

”I do not think any officer or agent would use maximum force where it was not necessary as they know what the consequences of such behaviour would be,” he stressed.

He explained that shootings normally result after a suspect the agents would have wanted to arrest resists arrest and resorts to shooting and that they never shoot first.

“We never shoot first; it is always the suspects who do so,” he explained.
The shooting of the civilians was widely criticized by members of the public who also asked that proper investigations be carried out and those found to be guilty accordingly punished.

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