Minister of Defense Justice and Security Dikgakgamatso Seretse was last week backed against the wall as Members of Parliament accused the Botswana Police Service of heavy handedness and taking the law into their own hands. MP’s last week expressed concern at BPS’s heavy handedness and escalating instances of suspects who have died or disappeared while in the custody of security personnel.
“This is not right. Worse still, the police later carry out investigations into their own wrongs,” said the MP’s.
In response, Seretse absolved the police and his Ministry from any wrongdoing. He added that the police have no bearing whatsoever on the prosecuting authority.
“The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has the prerogative to decide what action to take. We don’t give them instructions, they decide whether to prosecute or not. If they found no substantial evidence to prosecute they are free not to take any action,” said Seretse.
Seretse was responding to Lobatse MP Nehemiah Modubule, who had asked him to update Parliament on cases of unlawful killings or disappearance of suspects in police custody, including Moitaly Setlampoloka. Kweneng East MP, Moeng Pheto also wanted to know who is responsible for the opening of inquests and closure of cases implicating police personnel.
A robbery suspect, Setlampoloka was last seen with the police Mogoditshane, only for his body to be found in an un-inhabitated area near Mogoditshane in 2009. The police are suspected to have played a hand in his death and later covered up the murder. Six police officers were later charged with Setlampoloka’s murder. Seretse confirmed that the trial dates in the Setlampoloka case have been set at 02-5/09/2014 and 15-16/09/2014. In the case of Mothusinyana Moagi who also died in police custody, parliament was told that the case has been completed at Francistown High Court and the accused police officer was acquitted and discharged of on 22/06/12. David Mongae’s murder case was also completed at Lobatse High Court and four of the accused police officers were not found guilty.
Seretse also revealed that the DPP had closed the docket involving the death of Tshepho Molefe and Edison Mark Gumbo without any further action. The duo is also believed to have been shot by the Police.
Modubule said the string of acquittals and closure of cases implicating police officers was a result of poor police investigations and cover ups.
“I will not commit myself to such a serious indictment. Such is the periphery of the judges to decide,” said Seretse in response.
Seretse also revealed that 10/07/2014 the Kasane Magistrate Court will hear an inquest hearing on a case in which two Namibian nationals, Richard Siyauya Munguni and Nyambe Nyambe were killed at the hands of Botswana Defense Force personnel. The inquest docket into the death of Alex Mwewa Matipa and Clark Kaholola was submitted to the District Commissioner’s Office on 20/10/2011 and their Namibian compatriot and co-accused Ndongu Semalele was arrested on 18/03/2010. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for entering Botswana through ungazetted point of entry and hunting a partially protected game animal. Modubule called for closer scrutiny of these suspicious deaths, saying Botswana stands at risk of losing the trust of its citizens and the international community.