Saturday, June 6, 2020

Maun police broke arm of assault victim during lockdown patrol

Results of an x-ray examination that was done at Letsholathebe Primary Hospital in Maun show that a man who had a nasty run-in with a police patrol team suffered a broken arm.

When he spoke to Sunday Standard last week, Mooketsi Goitsemodimo complained about a swollen arm. He suspected the arm was broken when three police officers from the local police station fell upon him like a tonne of bricks during a heated argument. Courtesy of an x-ray examination, such suspicion has been confirmed. Goitsemodimo’s medical card says that “following assault more than one week ago”, he suffered a fracture in the ulnar (the long bone in the forearm that stretches from the elbow to the smallest finger) of the right arm and that callus has formed. Callus means soft tissue, especially in an area that has been subjected to friction. His right arm is now encased in a cast.

Goitsemodimo, who is epileptic, has a leg disability and walks with the aid of a stick, says that he was assaulted by police officers who had apparently been acting on a tip that home-brewed beer was being sold at his family home in Sanyedi Ward. All told the patrol team comprised four police officers (three males, one female) and a soldier. The woman officer and stayed in the patrol van throughout the period that the officers and soldier searched the homestead. The altercation began when the police wanted to search a hut in which Goitsemodimo’s sister, a new mother, was secluded with her two-week old baby in line with indigenous culture. Goitsemodimo says that he balked at the searching of the hut but minus the soldier who expressed grave misgivings about violating a strict cultural norm, the officers bulldozed their way in. They didn’t find what they were looking for and coming out, got into a verbal spat with Goitsemodimo, who says that he remonstrated with them for their acultural conduct. It was at this point, he claims, that the officers fell upon him, taking turns slapping him hard across the face and kicking him all over his body as he fell to the ground.

“Then they handcuffed me, dragged me on the ground like a bag of maize and threw me into the back of their patrol vehicle,” he says.

The vehicle took him to the police station where he was thrown into a holding cell and released a few hours later without being charged, by one of the officers who had earlier assaulted him. He says upon releasing him the officer told him: “I don’t ever want to see you here again.”

His body aching all over, Goitsemodimo later went to a medical clinic and provided the nurse who attended him with an account of the alleged assault, that was transferred to his medical card. The handwriting is characteristically hieroglyphic code that is difficult to read but some parts are clear enough: “reports to be assaulted by the police on the 8th April, 2020, sustaining injury to the face … cheek bruises … forearm swollen … soft tissue injury … report that they were kicking him in the face … pain on the ears … reports discharging [circled h] ear … reports some cracking sounds.” From reading the hieroglyphic handwriting on the card, it is unclear to make out what he was discharging from the ear but Goitsemodimo himself says that he was bleeding from both ears after the police beat him up.

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