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Soldiers, cops assault residents – claim

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Mochudi Police are investigating complaints of assault leveled against a group of soldiers and police officers who were on duty during the festive holidays. Two of the alleged victims who are still reeling from the shock of violence meted out on them are Sipho Kgakole (21), a third year student at the University of Botswana and his friend Thato Nthaga (21) a first year student at Maun Technical College, who were beaten black and blue by the uniformed men.

According to Kgakole, on Saturday, 2 January 2016, his friend Nthaga was walking him halfway at around 11pm after a visit, when a police van approached them. Two police officers and three soldiers jumped off and demanded to know where they were going.

“Thato told them that he was walking me home. They asked us to raise our hands and searched us. We didn’t resist. One of them poked and hit me with a baton in the stomach saying that I had not raised my hands high enough. Thato asked him why he had to do that and requested that they let us go since they had not found anything incriminating on us. The officers said he was cheeky and started harassing him, demanding that he should do press-ups as punishment.”

The two young men called the police station in an attempt to report the unsavoury treatment. “The officer who took our call said we should take down their names and submit a formal complaint. Luckily they were still in the vicinity. When we asked for their names, only one police officer, a certain Constable Podile, revealed his identity. The soldiers said we are troublesome, handcuffed us together and shoved us into the police van.

They then drove around doing rounds in the village with us in the back. It was only when I complained that the handcuffs are hurting me, as the grip was too tight, that they handcuffed us separately.” But little did they know that this was just the beginning of their ordeal. Kgakole says the officers then asked where they live.

“Nthaga told them that he lives at the Molefi Secondary School teachers’ quarters. As we drove off in that direction, one officer said they could not drop us off without beating us up. I thought they were joking until they unleashed slaps and punches on us alternating with bashing us with batons. I saw stars.”

Kgakole says the officers continued to beat him up after they had dropped Nthaga off. “At some point I pretended to have passed out, hoping they would leave me alone but one of them kicked me in the stomach. I sat up and they continued beating me, mocking me saying that I am a coward.”

When they dropped him off his shocked grandparents took him to the police station. Nthaga arrived shortly thereafter in the company of his mother. The two camps were assisted by Inspector Lucky Gouwe, who called the officers to the police station. “They confirmed that they had come across us but denied beating us up. It was strange because we were still bruised and bleeding.”

They insist that some of the officers appeared drunk. The two families suggested an alcohol test but the police were reluctant. “Gouwe said he had no powers to test the soldiers. He made several calls and said the soldiers’ senior was coming from Gaborone. We sat there until 5am waiting for a person who never arrived. We then filed a statement and went to the hospital,” shared Kgakole’s mother. Their medical test results show that they suffered swollen abdominal muscles, swollen necks and wrists.

Kgakole’s mother said she was not with her son on the night of the incident. “I was in Mochudi but elsewhere, while Sipho was visiting his grandparents. I understand officers beat them up for no apparent reason. We are awaiting further correspondence from the police on the matter.” Nthaga’s mother was cagey with details, insinuating that speaking to the media might interfere with police investigations.

 Inspector Gouwe confirmed the assault complaints. “We have received complaints from five other residents who say they were harassed and assaulted by soldiers and police officers who were on patrol duty during the holidays. We have taken down their statements and investigations are ongoing.”

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I broke the law in good faith – Moswaane

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YES I ERRED: Ignatius Moswaane is weary of some within his party, BDP.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane, has his electorates behind him. The maverick MP has recently found himself on the wrong side of the law after circulating a graphic video clip on social media depicting a woman in South Africa being brutally knifed to death.

At a consultative meeting with his constituents at the Leseding Hall on Saturday, he explained that his action was done in good faith. “I am a member of the SADC committee that deals with issues of abuse and harassment relating to women and children. I shared the video on facebook with our parliamentary group. This was to bring about awareness amongst ourselves on gender violence and brutality against women,” he said to the bemused audience. Moswaane, who admitted that he broke the law, swears that, the video was leaked deliberately by his enemies in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to put him into trouble with the law and jeopardise his political career.

The outspoken legislator claimed that when he shared a similar video of an unnamed country in the past, he achieved the desired results because the SADC committee he is a member of, took up the matter and an investigation was made. According to recent media reports, the MP has been viewed with suspicion of disloyalty to President Mokweetsi Masisi given the ongoing feud the state president has with his predecessor Ian Khama. Those looking at him with suspicion have suggested that he was loyal to Khama who is leading a crusade to topple Masisi from power at the general elections this year.

According to Moswaane, some with vested interests in the BDP want him out of the race for Francistown West constituency so that their preferred candidate may contest in his place. “I do not think it is the party. Maybe it is just some individuals in a faction within the party.” After the video was leaked, BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi issued a statement expressing dismay at the circulating video.

The MP however, does not see the video clip incident in isolation. He is convinced that considering his motive of sensitising people of the brutal act, he should have been warned instead of being arrested and his cell phone taken away from him. “It is clear that DIS is looking for something else in my cell phone which has got nothing to do with the video,” said Moswaane who accused the spy agency, DIS and his political opponents in the BDP of working against him. During question and comments time, a woman who introduced herself only as Senjoba, called for financial support for Moswaane should he need the services of a lawyer.

Another speaker, Moalosi said that what was happening to the MP was an indication that no one is safe. “The opposition has always said that DIS is used for witch-hunting. It shows we are also not protected,” he said. Olebile Motsamai called on the people to protect their MP. “As the electorate, you know what to do to end these things,” said Motsamai. The legislator

recounted a number of instances where some of his constituents have come to confess to him that DIS had offered them money to help frame him but they refused. This is not the first time that the MP has accused DIS of being used for political ends. The head of the spy agency, Peter Magosi has, in the past, rubbished Moswaane’s claims that he is being followed.

Moswaane’s collision with the BDP leadership is not new as he has also clashed with the leadership of former president Khama. In 2009 Moswaane contested and won Monarch south ward as an independent candidate after rejecting the primary election results which he found controversial.

In 2013 he and the BDP were disqualified from contesting a by-election by the Independent Electoral Commission. This was after the party had neglected to hear Whyte Marobela who had challenged the primary election results involving himself and Moswaane.

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BEWARE THE BPF

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NOT TRUSTED: The BNF veterans body does not trust anything with BDP roots

Botswana National Front (BNF) Veterans Association is cautioning the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to “tread carefully” regarding a possible working relationship with newly-formed Botswana Patrictic Front (BPF).

“UDC has to tread carefully because BDP never changes and the opposition never learns,” said the Association’s Chairman Patrick Kgoadi ahead of their meeting this weekend.The BPF is the latest breakaway offspring of the ruling party and is backed by a number of former BDP’s disgruntled members among them former president Ian Khama, former minister Biggie Butale and Tati East MP Guma Moyo. At a recent meeting in Serowe, Khama confirmed the membership of Moyo while over this past weekend, Butale insinuated that former minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was also a member of the new party.

Kgoadi said even though it might be seen to be a good thing to work with BPF, the opposition should vigorously scrutinise the party and its intended purpose as the relationship could backfire and cost the opposition victory in the national polls. The purpose of the Saturday meeting is to discuss the collapsed structures of BNF, preparations for 2019 general elections, developments at UDC and formation of new party BPF.

According to Kgoadi, they have observed that the BNF structures are not as active as they should be especially during the election year.“Our structures used to be more active on election year. This year things are just blurry and this is worrisome. Even at UDC level BNF should be playing a leading role not only in the presidency but across the country. “We always have to be taking a leading role as a party that plays a significant role in uniting opposition parties.

“So as veterans we would be discussing these issues and how we could advise both the BNF and UDC leadership,” said Kgoadi. The veterans have since the formation of the association been at loggerheads with the BNF Central Committee on how things are run both at the BNF and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). The veterans have thus been accused by the party leadership of always blowing things out of proportion and failing to use proper party channels when discussing internal matters.

BNF Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa has on several occasions pointed out that the veterans have served the party for long and should know processes and procedures to be followed when addressing internal matters. He expressed concern that the veterans always use channels that are not sanctioned by the party and its constitution. Kgoadi said the BNF central committee has for long been disingenuous and refused to meet them since 2017.

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