Crimes of passion: National crises

Bloody knife
Bloody knife

Escalating love relationship disputes that usually lead to murder remain the county’s nightmare. Despite being known as a nation of peace and tolerance, Botswana continues to experience a series of love related murders dubbed ‘passion killings’ and high rape cases.

Crimes of passion remain the country’s nightmare as dozens of women continue to lose their lives at the hands of their male lovers.

The Botswana Police Service (BPS)’s public relations officer, Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube said during the just ended Independence Day holidays, a total of 12 murder cases were recorded as compared to five cases in the previous year showing an increase of 140%. He said in all cases involving females, offences were perpetrated by males and they were love related matters. “All of the six female victims lost their lives at the hands of their lovers and the rest of the cases were men murdering each other after involvement in alcohol related disputes.

To show that people were out of control over the holidays, Maun police recorded two murder cases which occurred at a certain bar the same night,” Motube said. He raised a concern that for years people have been exhibiting frightening lack of anger control adding that most of the passion killings occur as a result of petty issues and insecurity amongst partners that could have been avoided if people could consider talking things out when troubled. “Gare itse gore sechaba se tsenwe ke eng (We dont know what has hit us). People no longer value the sanctity of human life as they choose to kill whenever it suits them. However, there is no passion in this heinous crime as usually men use things like knives and axes to slay their partners.

The society, especially men, should reflect and parents from family level should look at the upbringing of their children. It cannot be a police issue anymore. We (police) have tried to sensetise people on these social ills but our efforts continue to hit a snag. Parents should own up to their children’s behaviour from a young age to curb the scourge,” he said. Motube pleaded with partners to seek help when having problems in their relationships to avoid unnecessary killings. “Murder and rape are a societal problem. It looks like the society is angry and we have not yet established the reason behind but people should change their behaviour and attitudes towards life.

People should learn to respect each other and the sanctity of life,” he said. Motube said everyone has the right to live his or her life freely but that seems not to be the case for women in Botswana. He added that women live in deepest fear of rapists and lovers causing harm to them.

The police senior officer said as an illustration of the scope of the problem, police have recorded 52 rape cases as compared to 51 cases the previous year representing an increase of 2%. “The majority of women, being victims, were raped by known people like their ex-lovers, casual friends or people they had spent the night entertaining themselves drinking alcohol together at entertainment places with only a few incidents in which women were pounced on by strangers when walking alone at night ,” he said.

However, Parliament recently debated Penal Code changes that state that where an act of rape is attended by violence resulting in injury to the victim, the person convicted of the act of rape shall be sentenced to a maximum term of 25 years or life imprisonment. Gender activists have welcomed the proposed amendment on the enhancement of penalties for sexual offences from 10 years to 20 years imprisonment. Motube said pertaining to defilement, 22 cases were recorded this year as compared to 23 cases in the previous year representing a 4.34% decrease. Furthermore, Motube added that threat to kill incidents declined from 26 cases last year to 16 cases.

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