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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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Matsheka sues Bandleng mokoko 250k for defamation

Keletso Thobega

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Lobatse Member of Parliament aspirant Thapelo Matsheka has slapped Tefo Seetso of Woodhall in Lobatse with a P250, 000 lawsuit.

A few weeks ago, a video of Seetso tearing down posters bearing the picture of Matsheka at the Woodhall shops in Lobatse trended on social media. In the video, Seetso can be heard cussing what he refers to as corrupt politicians. The lawsuit letter, which this publication is in possession of, reads in part:

“Apart from the undoubtedly slanderous statement you uttered of and concerning him, taken within prevailing political atmosphere of election campaigning, the added import of your utterances is that our client: is corrupt, lacks moral fibre and is not fit to be elected member of parliament or to hold any public office.” The letter further states that Matsheka’s instructions are that his name has been smeared and that it would be almost impossible to repair the damage occasioned to him having regard to the wide coverage of the video clip.

“By the sheer size of Facebook subscribers both locally and internationally, and the prevailing election period during which particular attention to political campaigns and candidates is heightened, it is not hard to fathom the effect your slanderous actions have had and will continue to have on our client’s dignity as an ordinary member of the public and also as an aspirant to political office.”
The letter also stipulates that Seetso remove and delete the video clip from all social media platforms. He is also asked to publish an unconditional apology and retraction of the said defamatory recording.

In an interview Seetso told The Midweek Sun that he was still looking for a lawyer. He said he had torn down the posters and recorded the video “to get attention.” He said it was his freedom of expression. He also argued that he had not mentioned Matsheka’s name, who he said wanted to use him as a scapegoat, should he lose elections.

“The way things are, should he lose, he would claim that I contributed to his loss through defaming him as he claims. If at all he has a good name, then it would not be easily tarnished. He should just focus on his campaign,” he said.

He said he was still thinking about whether he would apologise or not. He also queried how Matsheka and his lawyers had reached the amount demanded. Seetso, who was once aligned with the BDP but was never a registered member, confirmed that he would be standing as an independent council candidate in Woodhall.

He said he had abandoned BDP because they were reluctant to register him. “I tried but failed. I think there are people within the party structures who saw me as a threat,” he said. Whatever the case, it is a punishable offence to destroy anyone’s political campaign material. IEC spokesperson Osupile Maroba, who said the Matsheka-Seetso case was the first of its kind, said anyone found guilty would dance to the music.

He made reference to the Electoral Act. He said if someone was reported to them, they would assist them and they would be handed over to the police who enforce laws. “If someone is incriminated in defacing political campaign material, they will be charged. As the IEC we do not enforce the laws but we are willing to assist with the procedure of bringing someone to book.” (Visit The Midweek Sun facebook page to see the video in question).

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A welcome snitch

Yvonne Mooka

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CELLPHONE TRACKER: Tebogo Aaron says criminals have labelled him a snitch for helping the police track people’s stolen property

Tebogo Aaron works hand-in-hand with Botswana Police Service to track down missing and stolen cellphones.

In an interview with The Midweek Sun, the 38-year-old man from Mahalapye says that on average, he traces between 25 and 50 mobile phones per day. He runs a store called Gadgets + Collectables, with two branches in Airport Junction and Phakakane’s Acacia mall.

Even though he sells a variety of gadgets, among them cellphones, Bluetooth speakers, laptops, it is the business of cellphone tracking that has given him a niche in the market. The Business Management and IT graduate says that his cellphone tracking business makes him stand out. “We are now in the era of cellphones. Almost every person has a cellphone and again, people steal them at a high rate,” he says.

Aaron provides police with leads, allowing them to do recoveries. He helps people who come with a police affidavit. “I have attracted hate from thugs thinking I’m a snitch,” he laughs.
But how long does it take for him to track down a cellphone? He says that the gadget becomes traceable the moment a sim card gets inserted inside.

His observation is that people have a tendency of buying stolen gadgets something he says is risky as one ends up charged by the police for buying a stolen item.
“Thugs steal phones with the intention to sell them, not to keep them. They want fast cash,” he says. And he says that thieves would go to an extent of creating fake Facebook pages to sell their stolen cellphones.

“Immediately after selling them, they delete the social media accounts while the buyer is left with it. People must take precaution,” he says. One of the people who have benefited from Aaron’s service, Lerato Lepang says her phone and wallet were snatched from her on June 4 in Molepolole.

“I reported with the police. A week later I heard of Gadgets + Collectables and decided to give it a shot. I went to the store on July 13 with a police affidavit as well as my phone details.“Five days later I received a call from them saying they had details of someone who had my phone,” she says. Another person Masego Mokgwatlheng says Aaron managed to recover her phone after a month in June.

She had forgotten it in a cab and traces showed that the cab driver had sold it to a Zimbabwean man. “I am now using my phone. It was made easier because I had a police affidavit,” she says. In addition to cellphone tracking, Aaron also tracks lost or stolen pets, bicycles and luggage. He has five employees.

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