Sunday, June 23, 2024

Molepolole shooting survivor relives his nightmare

The man who survived the recent fatal shooting in Molepolole that claimed the life of a female friend has spoken out for the first time about the harrowing ordeal that has horrified the whole country.

Oaitse Kombani, dubbed ‘Sdojamabullet’ (one who ducks bullets) on social media after escaping the shooting could not hold back tears as he relived events leading to the murder of his friend Mpho Stephen (37).

Komboni recalls the deceased holding up her hands and praying for her soul to be ushered into heaven as the suspect pointed a gun at her through the car window. “She also prayed for my protection,” he told Sunday Standard this week.

Kombani and his wife Lillian held hands as they spoke about events leading to the murder, and their relationship with the Stephens.

The two families grew closer after the deceased introduced the couple to the Forever Living Products business.

Children from the two families also grew closer, taking turns to host occasional sleepovers during weekends and school holidays, the Kombanis explained.

“Only last month Mr Stephens and his wife Mpho (victim) hosted us for dinner at Mugg & Bean Riverwalk (Gaborone),” the couple said as they shared with this publication photographs of the two seemingly happy families enjoying themselves.

According to the couple, they first encountered the suspect Oabile Sekwati (31) on the morning of Wednesday October 21st, 2020 when he showed up at their house looking for the deceased.

“I had just returned home from the office to pick up my wife and drop her off at the bus stop for her trip to Gaborone where she lives with our children.”

Kombani explained that his family usually commuted between Molepolole and Gaborone on weekends.

He said the suspect drove right through a closed gate in a Toyota Hilux.

“He claimed he crashed through the gate because his breaks were playing up. He looked troubled and was fidgety as he enquired after Mpho’s whereabouts.”

Lillian explained the deceased had earlier that morning left her car at the Kombani residence before driving off with a friend to Gaborone. The suspect allegedly stormed into the house when he couldn’t get straight answers about Mpho’s whereabouts.

“I went after him and dragged him out of the house. My wife was in the bathroom taking a shower.” Kombani said the suspect claimed the deceased owed him money. Kombani’s attempts to offer solutions on how he could get his money proved futile as the suspect sped off in his bakkie.

“I made a phone call to Mpho and relayed the message from the guy. She explained that the guy was hired to drive her children to and from school.” Kombani asked for the suspect’s number from Mpho and made several unsuccessful calls to assist.

He then dropped off his wife at the bus stop before driving over to the Stephen residence where he found the deceased and her mother. He told them that he was going to file a complaint with the police about the suspect’s intrusion at his house. On his way back he would later receive a phone call from one of the Stephen children asking to be taken to the shops to buy ice-cream. Upon arrival the Stephen residence the deceased asked for a lift to go deliver some Forever Living products to a client. “She insisted we leave her son behind.”

He dropped the deceased at Mafenyatlala Shopping Complex before proceeding to the Molepolole Police Station where he was told to call the suspect and the deceased for a meeting at a satellite police station situated at Lekgwapheng Ward, not far from the Stephen residence. 

“I drove back to pick up Mpho from the shopping complex where I also bought something to nibble. I asked her to drive while I was eating.”

He said Mpho suggested they drop off some groceries at the residence before going to the satellite police office. It was just after 7 PM and they were about 50 yards from the Stephen residence when a black BMW sedan suddenly appeared and cut them off before suddenly screeching to a halt.

The deceased also slammed on the breaks of their Toyota Corolla. “I saw a man bend over and lift a rifle from the passenger seat before hopping off the BMW and pointing the gun at me as I sat on the passenger seat.”

Kombani said he immediately ducked, burying his head under the dashboard as a bullet missed him and shot through the front passenger seat. He heard another shot which he suspected must have hit the deceased on the chest. He said the deceased had totally frozen at the sight of the gunman.

“I literally had to bend over from the passenger seat, turn the gear to reverse, and used my hands to step on the pedals as Mpho just sat there praying for forgiveness and asking the Lord to protect me.”

Kombani said he fled the scene using one hand to push down the accelerator pedal and the other to control the steering wheel. The suspect tailed them with the two cars smashing into each other along the way before he finally crashed on the police screen-wall. Kombani immediately hopped off the car and rushed into the satellite police station leaving a semi-conscious Mpho in the car.

He said officers at the police station also ran for their lives through the back gate. He broke down in tears as he recalled how he could hear gunshots fired as the suspect finished off his victim, who was lying helpless inside the Corolla.   

Molepolole Police Station Commander Motlhaba Ramabya confirmed the incident to Sunday Standard. He said the suspect, who remains in custody following his appearance at the Magistrates Court, has been charged with murder. “Other charges may be added as our investigations continue,” he said. The deceased was expected to be laid to rest in Maun yesterday, Saturday October 31st 2020. The relationship between the suspect and the deceased remains a subject of speculation.

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