FRANCISTOWN: Despite several interventions by the police and local authorities, cases of missing persons still remain a burning issue in Letlhakane policing area.
The area has in the past been tormented by missing persons amidst allegations by villagers that the missing persons were abducted and killed for ritual purposes.
According to Letlhakane police station commander, Superintendent Michael Maphephu, the area recorded seven missing persons in 2019, five in 2020 and four since the beginning of 2021.
In order to deal with the matter, about two weeks ago the police held a consultative meeting with the community leaders including other relevant stakeholders to address the missing persons’ problem in the area.
During the meeting, Letlhakane village leader Kgosi Barontshi Kegapetswe raised concerns about the alarming rate of missing individuals in the area and he pleaded for divine intervention.
He said the matter which he suspected to be linked to ritual killings was getting out of control and there was need for prophets or traditional doctors to be engaged to address the issue. Mmatshumo village leader Kgosi Keletshwaretse Phetsogang echoed the same sentiments with Kegapetswe.
He said the situation of missing persons was worsening and there was a need for divine intervention to deal with the matter.
Phetsogang also encouraged people to work as a collective in order to arrest the situation.
Just a few days after the meeting, a disabled teenager was tricked by three people in Mokubilo village and was allegedly later killed by the same men.
The teenage boy was found lying lifeless between Mmea and Mokubilo villages. After the death of the young man, there were rumors circulating that the deceased boy was found with some missing body parts something the police did not comment on but rather stated that they were waiting for a postmortem report.
The discovery did not come as a shock to the villagers as they ranted on social media
Additionally, they said that in cases where a missing persona was found, usually they would have missing body parts which are allegedly used for ritual purposes.
A few days later, there was yet another blow related to another missing person’s case where the police made a grisly discovery of remains of a 65-year-old mentally disturbed person who went missing on February 12. The man went missing at a cattle-post about eight kilometers from Mmatshumo village.
Surprisingly, there was something fishy in connection with the discovery of the human remains as the deceased man’s clothes were found exactly at the location where the police and villagers had previously searched.
Furthermore, a month ago, there was yet another missing person at Letlhakane area.
The matter was even posted on Botswana Police Service (BPS) official Facebook page where the missing persons’ name were revealed as Obakeng Badubi of Thabala village.
Days after the statement, Moeladilothoko, a social media page on Facebbok, launched a campaign dubbed ‘Bring back Obakeng’.
The campaign, which was launched at the missing person’s home village (Thabala) attracted scores of angry villagers who suspected that Badubi was abducted for ritual purposes in either Rakops or Letlhakane villages.
With an alarming rate of missing persons recorded by Letlhakane police, villagers continue to point fingers at their community leaders and other prominent people for having a
hand in missing persons whom they suspected were abducted killed for ritual killings.
In addition, the people believe that the missing persons’ body parts are used to make charms and potions by witch doctors. There seems to be a general belief that in Africa, Botswana included, human organs are illegally harvested for rituals of wealth creation and luck.