Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Police monitor social sites to prevent backlash over Phase IV murder

Police monitored social media sites prior to the appearance of Thabo Masilo, a suspect who allegedly murdered and raped a former St Joseph student in Gaborone Phase 4.

The police action came amid fears that a mob justice was being mobilised through the social sites.
The police were deployed at the magistrate court to prevent an attack on Masilo after they received information about a planned mob justice that however failed to materialise.

It is understood police were put on alert following the creation of a Facebook page titled, ‘We Hate Lepantsula Lekanyora,’ which calls for Masilo’s hanging.

Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa, confirmed that they use social sites to interact with members of the public.

“We also interact with community cluster members on Facebook; we talk to people, hear what they would like to share with us,” he said.

According to information received by this publication, police believe it is easier to stop public disorder by picking up signals at an early stage should a large number of networkers agitate for action against Masilo.

There was strong police presence on Monday this week when Masilo appeared before Village Chief Magistrate, Linah Mokibe. The court room was also packed to capacity.

“We cautioned the suspect against being uncooperative and he also felt that the mood of the public had changed. He could see that those who thronged the court in large numbers were baying for his blood, he had no choice but to follow orders from us and for the first time he wasn’t indifferent to advice and orders,” said a source.

During proceedings, roars from members of the public in the street outside could be heard; some people peered in through the windows, and police officers in the passages regularly had to call for order. Masilo left the courtroom under heavy guard.

Four more charges of rape, armed robbery, stealing from a house and indecent assault, were preferred against Masilo on top of the murder and rape charges he was facing. The charges were allegedly committed at different places and on different dates. He was not asked to make a plea.

He was remanded in custody after his lawyer, Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae, said he would not apply for bail.

Meanwhile, when speaking to Phase 4 residents last week at a meeting aimed at finding ways of addressing escalating level of crime, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse also suggested that social networks such as Facebook could be used for crime prevention.

“I believe that we can use social media to monitor crime. We can use social network sites not only to interact across communities to ensure communal harmony but also for intelligence-gathering and information-sharing mechanisms and co-ordination between the police and members of the public,” he said.

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