Mmegi Online :: Police Brutality worries Tsimako
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Last Updated
Friday 08 December 2017, 17:25 pm.
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Police Brutality worries Tsimako

The police have been in the news for the wrong reasons of late. This follows allegations that they are beating up people. Human rights activists are questioning whether Botswana is turning into a police state following the attacks on members of the public.
By Lekopanye Mooketsi
Correspondent
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Police Brutality worries Tsimako








Last week, the Botswana Gazette carried the story of a young man who claimed that he was beaten up and tortured at Mogoditshane Police Station. On Friday, another newspaper, The Voice carried another story alleging brutality by the police. One of the victims claimed his eardrum was damaged after a beating by police officers at the Gaborone bus rank. The two male siblings said they were subjected to a severe beating after they were accosted by police officers.  As usual, the police said they are investigating the matter.

In Maun, suspects have claimed they have been brutalised by the police. Some of the suspects have reportedly appeared in court with injuries. Maun Police Station commander, Robson Maleka has denied that his officers assault suspects. He claimed the suspects might have sustained injuries through other means. He said the suspects could have been beaten by people they robbed.  But the accused persons have always made it clear that they were assaulted by the police.

Despite the growing concerns about police brutality, the issue was not on the agenda of the senior police officers' conference held last week. Spokesman for Ditshwanelo - the Botswana Centre for Human Rights - Peter Tshukudu said they are concerned about increasing reports of police brutality. He said they recently wrote a letter to the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse over the matter.   They wanted to find out whether it was in the interests of justice to beat up suspects.  Tshukudu said they expressed their concern about the manner in which security agents handle members of the public. "They are targeting us as their customers.  There is a tendency  that they  are taking the law in their own hands," he said.  The human rights activist said this is worrying because Botswana is a country which respects the rule of law.

He said the police are aware of the procedures to be followed if somebody is suspected to have committed a crime. The duty of the police, he said, is to investigate and prosecute. He cautioned the police not to take short cuts. Tshukudu said the constitution forbids torture. He said a Gaborone magistrate once ordered a suspect who

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was allegedly beaten up by the police to be taken for medical treatment. He said magistrates should protect suspects who have been brutalised. He accused the police of instilling fear in people and blamed senior officials for failing to respond to the allegations.

A Francistown lawyer, Morgan Moseki said allegations of police brutality are worrying because this does not augur well for a country known for abiding by the rule of law. "If the security forces realise that the regime supports them, they can do anything knowing that no action will be taken against them," he said.

Moseki who fears for the worst said things are not going to be good for the nation. He said Botswana is about to turn into a police state.

He foresees a chaotic situation similar to that in Zimbabwe. "We are heading to a (Robert) Mugabe.  There will be a situation when people will be assaulted by mysterious people that they do not know," he said.

"Imagine a man appearing in a newspaper  with a red eye after he was assaulted by the police.  What does it say about our liberty?. We have never  known this in our country," he said.  Moseki said in the past, action was always taken against  police officers who were suspected to have assaulted people.

Responding to a question during a press conference  on Friday,  the Commissioner of Police, Thebeyame Tsimako said he takes seriously the allegations of police brutality. 

Tsimako said there have had cases of beatengs by the police but not torture. 

He said in such cases, they take appropriate action against the culprits. 

Tsimako said the policy of the police is not to assault anyone but to serve the public. He added that they want to maintain a good relationship with the society. The police chief said they always investigate any allegations of brutality. 

Cases of police brutality are not new in the country.  In the early 1990s, CID officers were convicted by the High Court for torturing a car theft suspect to death. The officers were sacked after their conviction but one of them was later recruited by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) in the Military Intelligence (MI) section.

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