Barely a fortnight into the New Year, police have already recorded an increasing number of murder cases, the majority of which emanating from misunderstandings at liquor outlets and involving love birds, an official police statement reveals.
Dipheko Motube, the Acting Public Relations Officer, revealed in a statement that despite police’s thorough interventions to combat murder cases, the offence is seemingly unrelenting and the number has soared in the New Year compared to the same period of the previous year sparking fears the number could increase significantly as the year progresses.
“A total of six murder cases were recorded since the beginning of the New Year and five suspects have been brought to book for five of the cases. The police have observed that the majority of these murder incidents result from misunderstandings at liquor outlets and between lovers,” the police statement revealed.
In one of the latest incidents involving lovers, police in Kasane are investigating a case in which a 23-year-old woman of Poroga Ward in Gweta was murdered by her 19-year-old boyfriend of Kgaphamadi Ward in Kasane. It is alleged that the deceased was entertaining herself with others at a local shebeen when the suspect assaulted her. The deceased was later found lying dead with stab wounds and the suspect is in police custody.
In another incident, a 19-year-man of Mosata Ward in Mookane stabbed to death a 20-year-old man of Dilaene Ward in Mahalapye at a drinking hole at Letlhake cattle post.
“In a bid to step up operations against violent crimes, the police would like to warn the general public that they will continue with the stop, question and search initiative so that those found in possession of offensive weapons can fully account for them as the weapons are mainly used in committing crime,” added the statement.
The increasing incidents of lovers committing murder at liquor outlets concern the police despite the availability of places where people can seek help.
Equally concerned is the government, which nearly passed an amendment to the Liquor Act, seeking to restrict the time liquor outlets are legally permitted to operate.
The bill is yet to be discussed in parliament and may probably be discussed in the coming February parliamentary sitting (having missed discussion in the previous sitting because of time) and is expected to trigger fireworks across the political divide as individual MPs endeavour to obtain political mileage out of it as the country slowly approaches what political analysts describe as “the most interesting of all times”: the 2009 general elections.
To further clamp down murder occurrences, Motube asserted in an interview with The Sunday Standard that the entire police personnel has been warned against practicing discretionary measures over allegations surrounding threat to kill cases. He said that under no circumstances shall a police officer treat the offence as trivial as previous experiences indicate such discretionary verbal expressions gave birth to actual killings.
“One of the qualities of a police officer is to practice discretion but not with allegations surrounding incidences of threats to kill,” Motube said. “Under no circumstances shall a police officer treat the offence as trivial. Such discretion is utterly disallowed because previous police discretions over the offence have worked against the institution with individuals later committing gruesome killings.”
Ironically, such killings know no boundary with police officers themselves committing the same offence they are supposed to battle.
Ramotswa Police Chief Mangisi and sergeant Pikati fell prey to the offence in recent years, killing wife and girlfriend, respectively, before committing suicide with duty pistols.
It was widely reported in local papers. Pikati’s girlfriend reported the threats to the police but the police were reported to have taken it lightly.
“The Botswana Police would further like to serve a warning that no one will be allowed to withdraw a case of threat to kill before the police in view of the increasing cases of love related killings,” the statement declared.
Other serious offences that the police are grappling with include armed robbery and theft of motor vehicles, which recorded 34 and eight, respectively, compared to 20 and five during the same period last year.
Police and the public could seek solace in the rape and road accidents deaths cases which are lower (31 and four, respectively) as opposed to the same period last year (34 and six).