Sunday, January 24, 2021

Row over Tshekedi Khama’s messy citizen arrest of police officer

The Botswana Police Service (BPS) is saddled with a political hot potato following a messy citizen’s arrest conducted by Member of Parliament for Serowe North-West, Tshekedi Khama, on a police officer.

The Botswana Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CP&E) provides that a private citizen can effect a civil arrest in respect of crimes covered in the Penal Code. Over speeding, however, is not specified in the Penal Code.

In the case of offences not specified in the Penal Code, a private citizen can only make an arrest for offences punishable by a period of imprisonment exceeding six months, without the option of a fine. Over speeding, however, has the option of a fine.

The Botswana Police Service is, however, saddled with a citizen’s arrest case that cannot be brought before a court of law because Tshekedi Khama did not have the authority to make the arrest in the first place. Besides, President Khama’s brother arrested the police officer claiming he was driving at an “excessive speed”, but cannot tell at what speed the police officer was driving since he did not have the necessary speed monitoring equipment.

The MP, without any equipment normally used by traffic officers, on 29 December last year spotted the then uniformed Constable Tom Majafi, allegedly speeding along K.T Motsete road in a police vehicle. Tshekedi Khama allegedly gave chase and stopped the police officer for a brief interrogation before taking the police officer to the Gaborone West Police station.

Sources close to the case say the case could also not be brought before the courts because it opened the president’s brother to counter charges as he did not have the authority to make the arrest and he would also have to have been driving at an excessive speed himself to be able to catch up with the speeding police officer and be able to arrest him.

BPS spokesperson, Christopher Mbulawa, told The Telegraph that any citizen is empowered to make an arrest if they witness a crime being committed. Mbulawa further confirmed that police officers, ambulance drivers and fire brigades are only allowed to exceed the posted speed limit in cases of emergency. The Telegraph was not able to establish if Tshekedi Khama had ascertained himself that the police officer was not responding to an emergency when he chased after the police officer and stopped him.

While BPS cannot take the case to court, the president’s brother is, on the other hand, allegedly pressuring the police high command to take action against the “speeding” officer.

As a result, the police officer, Mojafi, has been summoned for an internal disciplinary hearing. A charge sheet was served on the constable on the night of┬á21 February this year (22:24 to be precise), albeit┬áwith glaring contradictions, which┬ástates that Majafi┬áon the 26 August last year drove a motor vehicle registered BX 06 2107 at “an excessive speed” along K.T Motsete road while at the same time he is said to have committed the offence on 29 December 2011.

┬áGaborone West station commander, Bonnie Bareki, has confirmed that President Khama’s younger brother reported the matter to the police as any responsible citizen would but denied constable Majafi was being charged for excessive speeding despite the fact that this is what the constable is being charged for in the police statement of offence.

 Bareki said that Majafi is undergoing an internal police disciplinary hearing for driving a police vehicle in a manner not befitting the conduct of a police officer or a government employee. When asked exactly how the police constable was driving the vehicle in a manner that is deemed inappropriate, Bareki protested that it would be disclosure of evidence that may subsequently jeopardize the case.

 The station commander would not explain why, if indeed the constable had committed a traffic offence, the matter was not referred to a competent court to deal with save to say the matter was being dealt with internally.

┬áThe President’s younger brother has since last week failed to respond to the Telegraph enquiries.

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