Thursday, May 6, 2021

Shocking revelations in suspected murder of suspect in police custody

An unmarked grave, an unidentified corpse with no death certificate and missing crucial evidence are the latest shocking revelations in the case of Olefile Moiphitlhi who was last seen by Botswana Police Service investigators and has been missing for four years.

Moiphitlhi’s family has simply joined the dots and a sinister outline has emerged: That police officers may have killed him, buried his body in the unmarked grave and destroyed the evidence to cover their tracks.

Moiphitlhi’s last known whereabouts was in the custody of police officers who were investigating him in connection with an armed robbery in Molepolole where  cash amounting to P 100 000 Pula was stolen  from Taj Filling Station at gun point.

Asked about the unmarked grave at Molepolole, retired former assistant Commissioner of Police, Milton Mapange was at pains to explain to the court why the person buried in the grave did not have a death certificate.

‘’I do not know why the person buried in one of the graves we visited with the family of Moiphithi did not have a death certificate but what I was told by the social welfare officer and Tribal authorities at Molepolole is that the deceased who was buried there was Buti Malunga a destitute from Malawi who did not have a passport or even national identity card (Omang), and it does happen that a person can be buried without a death certificate,” said Mapange.

It also emerged during Mapange’s cross examination that, messages were sent from Moiphitlhi’s cell phone which was then in the custody of the police claiming to have been written by Moiphitlhi who at the time had gone missing.

Mapange failed to explain to the court how the message which read : Ke siele mo mapodising ke ile SA.( I have escaped from the police, and  I have gone to South Africa)and why the phone was active from the time he went missing on the 8th  August to 30th  November 2011 .

He also failed to explain away revelations that the history of the phone calls from the service provider shows that the communication was made locally from 8th August to 30 November 2011 why the police failed to arrest and instead claimed that he had escape to South Africa.

‘’I don’t know if the sender of the message was the missing person or the owner of the phone, ”said Mapange. It also emerged that the cellular phone handset was missing from police custody and investigating officers had initially told the court that they gave the phone to Moiphitlhi when they released him from the cells to Old Naledi.

Moiphitlhi’s family has engaged attorney Martin Dingake to sue the police to account for the disappearance of their son who allegedly went missing at Old Naledi when the police were conducting a search.

When giving evidence in chief, the retired assistant commissioner who has served the police service for more than 41 years as a detective has told the Lobatse High Court that his officers, Detective Thatayaone Christian, Constable Phukwi and Modongo Modongo  failed to follow  procedure on how to conduct a search.

He said the officers conducted the search at night which was against Botswana Police Service procedure. He further revealed that the officers did not even have a search warrant when escorting the suspect from police cells at Molepolole to search his house in Old Naledi, Gaborone.

He said upon discovering the officers’ “gross negligence” while on duty and allowing a suspect to escape from lawful custody the trio was suspended from duty with a possibility of being dismissed from work.

He admitted crucial evidence which were to be used against the police officers in the case went missing from police records. He said it was reported to him that the cell registry and occurrence books which were used by the police to enter information relating to the suspect when detained and released cannot be located. Case continues.

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