Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Molepolole family drags govt to court over missing son

A  Molepolole family has dragged the government to court over their missing son, Olefile Momphitlhi.
The missing man is suspected to have died at the hands of the police. Momphitlhi was in police custody when he went missing.
 The family wants an order from the court compelling the police to  furnish them with, among other things, copies of all documentary evidence in their possession , a complete record of the docket of the investigations or alternatively all witnesses statements recorded, investigation diary, police occurrence book, cell registry book, photographs, results of forensic tests.
 In his sworn statement filed before the High Court, on behalf of Momphitlhi family, Mpho Lebogang said that on the 7th of August 2011, the Momphitlhi brothers accompanied their brother to Molepolole Police Station to hand himself to the police around 1100hrs after a tipoff that police were looking for him in connection with a robbery investigation.
 Lebogang narrates that his brother was detained and since then the family has never heard or seen him.
┬á“The brothers were accordingly advised to attend to the police station the following day to get details of Olefile’s court dates, if any, from the responsible officer. Upon attendance at the police station the following day, which is on the 8th of August 2011, the Investigating Officer informed the Momphitlhi brothers that they must proceed to court to get dates as they were preparing Olefile and his co-accused for a court appearance on that particular day,” he said.
Lebogang added that on their way to court, the Momphitlhi brothers were told that their brother had escaped from lawful custody the previous night.
“Our inquiry with Molepolole Police Station as to the circumstances that led to Olefile’s escape from lawful custody have not yielded anything. In fact the police went into defensive mode and started accusing each other. The then Station Commander┬á in fact denied being on duty on the date Olefile disappeared, although our investigations later discovered that Station Commander Andrew Bosilong┬á was in fact on duty on that date.”
He said they also discovered that a cellphone which was an exhibit in a case at Molepolole police station was used to send Olefile’s brothers a text message.
Lebogang said they had several meetings with police authorities including the Commissioner of Police, and the present Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgope but they never got any satisfactory answers as to the whereabouts of their brother.
“Nothing of significance turns on these meetings in terms of update except one distinctive impression the police left on us that we do not deserve any update of meaning and will not respond to our request … In particular no basis is provided why they take the view that we are not entitled to regular and meaningful updates and cannot be provided with documents we requested from them.”
Lebogang said that the leads that they gave to the police were never followed and if followed, they have not been told the results of the investigations.
He said they have also had a meeting with the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Leonard Sechele who revealed that a docket had been placed before him on certain charges he did not disclose with respect to the escape from lawful custody.
“The culprits in the alleged docket were certain police officers, allegedly on duty on the 7th August 2011, the Director in the DPP advised that he does not consider the evidence before him sufficient enough ┬áto prosecute┬á and will be returning the file to the police for further investigations. Consequently, the Director advised us that there was nothing further on which he could assist.”
In a letter that the family lawyers wrote to the Police Commissioner, they had among other things wanted to know whether the police have done any investigations on the mysterious grave that they identified which they suspect to be that of Momphithi.
A date for the case is yet to be set. Justice David Newman is expected to hear the case.
The family is represented by Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper