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Police officers and corruption

Staff Writer
Police corruption is a growing problem in Botswana today. An examination of a local newspaper or any police-related publication in an urban city during any given week would most likely have an article about a police officer caught committing some kind of corrupt act.

A most recent case is that of Mabutsane Police Station commander, Stephen Kebaitse who is on trial for corruption charges. He is appearing before Jwaneng Magistrates Court for allegedly embezzling over P60, 000 exhibits in a criminal matter. There are other police officers, charged in courts of law, for crimes they committed while in office.

In Botswana, police officers have complained of unsatisfactory pay which does not meet their daily needs. The officers, mostly from the traffic department are said to be the main perpetrators of corruption, as some demand bribes from motorists who have broken the law.

Further, police corruption can extend to outright violence, usually against the most vulnerable targets.
There are complaints and even court cases in which members of the public or suspects complain of police brutality, which sometimes leave victims in hospital beds.

The constitution of Botswana seeks to protect members of the public from such. Victims can sue police for damages in civil actions.  Typically, these actions are brought for claims such as the use of excessive force or police brutality, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, wrong death

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and extra judicial shootings and killings. The Internal Affairs department also seeks to prevent police corruption.  Corruption in policing is usually viewed as the mistreatment of authority by a police officer acting officially to fulfill personal needs or wants.

Corruption may involve profit or another type of material benefit gained illegally as a consequence of the officer's authority. Typical forms of corruption include bribery, extortion, receiving or fencing stolen goods, and selling drugs.

Corruption within police departments falls into two categories; external corruption and internal corruption.While there is no reason to suppose that policemen as individuals are any less fallible than other members of society, people are often shocked and outraged when policemen are exposed as violating the law.

The reason is simple; their deviance elicits a special feeling of betrayal.

Most studies support the view that corruption is endemic, if not universal, in police departments. The danger of corruption for police is that it may invert the formal goals of the organisation.

Safeguards against police misconduct exist throughout the law. Police departments themselves establish codes of conduct, train new recruits, and investigate and discipline officers.



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