Tumisang Motingwakgama, one of the suspects arrested for stolen bride price cattle has alleged police torture. But the police authorities denied knowledge of anyone being tortured by their charges. The story was carried in our last week’s edition with a heading: "Police Raid Wedding, Seize Bride Price Beasts".
Apparently, the police gate-crushed a lobola ceremony in Goo-Ruele ward in Kanye and extracted five cattle, which were part of the bride price, from the enclosure they had been kraaled in. To the chagrin of the bride and groom and their invited guests, the police let it be known that the beasts had been stolen, obviously turning cheers and ululations into jeers and condemnations.
The Monitor wrote of the utter embarrassment that befell the usually happy ritual for all concerned, after the police let it be known that five of the beasts that were supposed to be part of the bride price, were allegedly stolen.
Following a tip-off then, the police raided the ceremony and retrieved the beasts, leaving the groom, bride and their families feeling like crawling into a corner with utter humiliation.
Shocked guests watched, mouths agape, as the police confiscated the cattle meant to be presented as the bride price. A Kanye inhabitant, Motingwakgama contacted this publication last week and spoke of how he suffered torture at the hands of the police who were questioning him about the alleged stolen beasts. He said on July 10, 2018 the police visited him at his place in Jwaneng and asked him to walk with them to their car that was parked outside the yard. On arrival, he found his co-accused in the matter, Kelepile Ngwanawamodimo.
“The police asked me if I knew him and I said yes. That is when they told me that I was the one whom they were looking for. They then grabbed me roughly and handcuffed me, before forcing me inside their car and driving off.
“They took me to the bush where they questioned me about the two beasts that I had sold to Ngwanawamodimo. “I told them that I owned the cattle and have proof that I even presented before Sejelo police station before the bride and groom took them,” he said. Motingwakgama went on to narrate how despite being adamant about owning the cattle, and having proof of such ownership, the police continued to assault and torture him. “They told me to tell the truth about the cattle. I was shocked and nervous that they might kill me as they undressed and assaulted me whilst naked,” Motingwakgama said. He revealed that the police went on to tie a refuse plastic bag around his neck to suffocate him whilst forcing him to admit that he had stolen the said beasts.
The accused said he suspected that the police tortured him in order to force him into agreeing to the lie that he had stolen the cattle.
“Whilst handcuffed, police
“All along, another officer was pointing a gun at me. One officer told me that even if I died magakabe a tla ijela (crows would feast on me).
“Mongwe wa bone ke fa a re ba ba tshwanang le nna jaana ba kgonwa ke go nkgelwa pele (Those like me can only be broken after releasing some odour). “I have in the past heard reports of police brutality. I never expected that such things will ever happen to me.
“After close to an hour’s torture, they drove me in the direction of my home, but they dropped off me a few kilometres away,” he said.
Motingwakgama said on arrival at home, he narrated the sad plight to his family members who advised him to seek medical attention following the injuries he had sustained. “My whole body was painful, especially my ribs. I then went back to Sejelo police station where I asked to meet the station commander who was said to be not around that time.
“The police officer that was assisting me phoned him (station commander) and he instructed him to record a statement and also help me to get medical assistance.
“I then went to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital where I got medical assistance,” Motingwakgama said, confirming to have opened an assault case against the police.
He said that he was shocked when a few days ago the police contacted him, telling him to come and collect the alleged stolen beasts.“I am surprised as they are now forcing me to come and collect the alleged stolen cattle. “I told them that there is no way they can contact me because I have told them that I no longer own them as I have long sold them to Ngwanawamodimo as I have told them,” he said.
Reached for comment, on this matter the Botswana Police Service’s (BPS) public relations officer, Dipheko Motube said he was not aware that any suspect was assaulted. “What I know is that we have charged the duo with stock theft and their case is still pending. I cannot at this point deny nor admit to his claims because I just learnt about his claims from you now,” Motube briefly said.
For his part, Sejelo police station commander, Reuben Mphoeng shared Motube’s sentiments that he was not aware of the case. He said that he has been away from work on leave and he directed The Monitor to one Rantlong. But Rantlong’s phone went unanswered despite repeated attempts.