“Vala”, the police method of physical torture used to extract information from prisoners, appears to have fallen out of favour with senior police officers still smarting from embarrassment at investigations into the recent death in Mogoditshane police cells of a suspected criminal.
The official report of the Commissioner of Police, Thebeyame Tsimako, into the death of the 29 year old man of Mahalapye, Jordan Itally Setlampoloka, who was arrested and died in police custody, has not yet been released.
The deputy commissioner of the Botswana Police Service, Ikotlhaeng Bagopi, describes ‘vala’ as a “barbaric” method of interrogation.
He says: “Our officers are taught at the police college how to extract information from crime suspects but it is unfortunate if the police still torture suspects”.
“Let me make myself clear. No police officer is allowed to ‘vala’ a suspect but if it can come out that such officer has done that, serious action will be taken against that particular officer and that may result in dismissal if need be,” warns Bagopi.
He appeals to the public that if a police officer applies ‘vala’ to a suspect, he or she should report and such threats or practices will be dealt with promptly.
Former top police investigators who quit and prefer to be anonymous say ‘vala’ will always prevail within the service as long as they is crime”.
They say excessive torture is escalating in the service because experienced officers who knew how and when how to apply “vala” have quit the service.