Thursday, October 28, 2021

Police officer sues gov’t half million pula for malicious prosecution

A 55 year old police inspector, Oagile Oitsile has taken government to court demanding P500 000 for malicious prosecution. The case is before Francistown High Court Judge, Bengbame Sechele. Giving testimony in court on Monday, Oitsile who is stationed at Sehitlhwa Police Station said that on the 5th  of December 2011, he received a telephone call from one Seargent Chibange stationed at Tatitown Police Station in Francistown summoning him to come to Francistown. He informed him that he failed to comply with a court order.

“There was a court order for me to pay P300.00 per month as money for maintenance of my child with my former girlfriend Locacia Ndebele. The order had been granted on the 13th of February 2009 by the Francistown Magistrate Court. The order contained the amount of money to be paid for four months arrears which amounted to P1200.00. The payments where for the months of March, April, October and November 2011. Surprisingly I had made all these payments and I had receipts in my possession. Payment had been made before the clerk of court in cash,” he said.

He said that upon being summoned by Seargent Chibange at Tatitown Police Station the sergeant wanted the plaintiff to explain why he failed to comply with the magistrate court order. The plaintiff(Oitsile) then explained that he paid the money in question. He however told court that Chibange did not require any receipt from him as proof of payment when he interrogated him. He just informed the plaintiff that he failed to comply with a court order.

“I then went back to Sehitlhwa where I was stationed. On the 29 of March 2012 I received a summons to appear before Francistown Magistrate Court on the 24 of April 2012. I did appear on that date and I was charged with four charges for failure to comply with a court order. The charge sheet showed that I had arrears of P1200.00,” he explained.

The plaintiff said on the 24 of April 2012 a charge sheet was read and he pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

“I feel that these charges were not correct. I never failed to comply with any court order to pay maintenance and I did not have any arrears. I feel that the proceedings were malicious and the charges made against me were not according to the law. I never violated any law and I explained everything to the investigating officer Chibange. I pray before this court that I be paid for malicious prosecution the amount of P500 000,” he said.

He said that he suffered damages in that he is now being perceived as a criminal and to make things worse, he is a police officer who is supposed to live by example. He emphasized that his image has been tarnished. He also brought to the court’s attention that he served the police service for 35 years and has never committed any offence. He said that the mother of his child, Locacia Ndebele also expressed shock when he heard that the plaintiff was being charged of the offences when he paid maintenance fees well on time.

Cross examining the plaintiff, Ndiye Balule from the Attorney General (AG) who represented the respondent rubbished the assertion by the plaintiff that he suffered damages. He questioned the plaintiff failure to avail payments receipt to the investigation officer when he was being interrogated.

“You held information that could have led to the early stoppage of prosecution. A sworn affidavit was also presented in court from Locadia Ndebele and you did nothing to challenge it,” Balule said.

Called to the dock, respondent witness, Maun Police Station Commander Superintendent Motlhaba Ramabya said that when this case transpired, he was then the Assistant Superintendent at Tatitown Police Station in 2011. He said that on the 6th of December 2011 he called cases to his office to allocate them for investigation. He said that amongst these cases was plaintiff’s case of failure to comply with a court order lodged on the 6th of December 2011.

“There were three documents from Francistown Magistrate Court, an affidavit, certificate of clerk of court and a court order. The affidavit showed that the plaintiff owed P1 200 for four months in 2011 and had failed to pay,” he said.

He said that after receiving the court documents he allocated the case to Seargent Chibange for investigations. He said that the sergeant then reported back and indicated that there was nothing to show that the plaintiff had paid the arrears. He said that it happened that he (Ramabya) had an official trip to Sehitlhwa Police Station and took advantage to go and meet the plaintiff and interrogate him about the issue.

“Whilst at Sehitlhwa police station I talked to him and asked him about his failure to obey a court order and he denied that. He maintained that he paid the money and has receipts. He however refused to present those receipts to me when I asked him to do so,” he said.

The witness said that he then forwarded the case to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) requesting for the matter to be brought to court. He however said that in 2013 he received a docket of the plaintiff from the DPP indicating that the matter had been withdrawn before court after he (plaintiff) had produced receipts that he paid for the months in question. 

The accused is represented by Keitshegile Sechele and trial continues as the Attorney General is yet to call more witnesses.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper