Maun’s Rara Apostolic Church welcomed received rare visitors at their last Sunday service as they were joined by members of the police, clad in their duty uniforms.
This time around, the police posed no threat and were not on any of their many investigation rounds but had, like the rest of the congregation, come to worship. Unbeknownst to the congregation, the police were not only there to be prayed for but would later join them in song and dance, and only leave when the service was over late in the afternoon!
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Maun Police Station commander, Superintendent Kenny Badumetse, who was part of the delegation, said the suggestion to have police chaplaincy services was the brain child of retired police Commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako, and was introduced after the realization that members of the Botswana Police were themselves also challenged as they are bound to have personal problems and constantly encounter traumatic situations in their line of duty which therefore need spiritual intervention.
But it was observed that worshiping at their choice of churches had not been forthcoming as they are most of the time engaged with work commitments. Because they are themselves from different denominations, Badumetse said their visits will not be carried out each and every Sunday, and will be done in turns, to allow them to go to their various rightful churches, while at the same time making sure that each other’s religious values are not trampled upon.
The selection of churches to visit is also random and church leaders are informed of the intention to visit well in time.
Badumetse said the other reason was for them to fully interact and familiarize themselves with communities at their various places of worship. He said gone are the days when the police used to be seen as hardened people, who only took pride in making arrests.
From time to time, he said, they have dealt with scenarios whereby the commission of crimes was somehow related to churches or at times church members being victims, such as their houses or cars being broken into while out worshiping, drowning due to baptizing, and noise pollution during night church services, rape incidents on the way from church, and so forth.
With the mushrooming of churches, or ministries as they are called nowadays, he said the time had come for people to understand and get used to certain procedures so that they may know what is expected of them. He said by visiting churches and having the platform to freely interact will also lessen the amount of fear on members of the public, who they always encourage to make use of their community services aimed at enabling the police to work closely with communities.
“And so we believe our interactions will, in a way, help improve our relations with the people we serve and help us deal with some of them in a manner that they understand better. They should also understand that confronting the police on various issues does not always mean opening a case, but can also lead to complainants being counseled for the purpose of peace restoration amongst people in dispute,” said Badumetse. “It is not a crime to have all night prayers, but it is a crime to make noise without consultations with neighbours and alerting them in advance of the planned night services. We want people from different denominations to understand all this so that they don’t find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Our first visit to Rara Church was successful and the congregation was so welcoming. We look forward to receiving the same hospitality at the other churches which we will be visiting soon.”