Botswana Police facing P1.4 million law suit for torture and unlawful arrest

Chedza Mmolawa

The Commissioner of Police and five police officers represented by the Attorney General have been slapped with a P1.4 million lawsuit for torture and unlawful arrest by Derrick Leburu through his lawyers, Lecha and Associates.
In his declaration to the Francistown High Court, Leburu claims that on the 12th October 2015, he was arrested by two police officers, Ntuane and Kajata from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Maun on suspicion of being involved in the commission of theft and break in at Maun Regional Wildlife office where three rhinoceros horns were stolen.
Leburu states that he was arrested in Maun while on a business trip and was scheduled for a site visit in preparation for a tender application. He claims in the court papers that whilst in custody, officers Ntuane and Kajata subjected him to serious physical and psychological abuse as a way to torture him to admit to a crime he was unaware of.
He says the torture that was meted out on him included stripping him of his underpants and assaulting his whole body and electrocuting him on his legs and under his feet.
He also claims that he was denied water despite his exhaustion from the physical assault and electrocution as well as denying him access to his high blood medication which was in his hotel room at the time. He further states that all five officers refused for him to be taken to the hospital for medical attention which he only accessed after he was released on the afternoon of the 14th of October 2015.
Leburu claims that as a result of the injuries he sustained at the hands of the police, he had to undergo further medical treatment at private medical treatment centers. He also added that he was denied access to legal counsel despite his repeated requests to be afforded his constitutional right to an attorney. He said upon his release from police custody no charges were laid against him. He said his arrest and detention were carried out on the grounds that he was a friend to one of the suspects in the said case of stolen rhino horns at the Maun Wildlife Offices.
Leburu and his legal team further blame his unlawful arrest and detention for his failure to apply for the tender from the Department of Roads in Gumare. The P1.4 million that Leburu is seeking from the Attorney General is made up of P450 000 for physical torture by beatings and electrocution, P200 000 for unlawful arrest and detention, P250 000 for emotional suffering and stress, and P 500 000 for loss of business whilst under police custody.
In their defense, the Attorney General denies all allegations brought before them by the plaintiff. They insist that Leburu’s arrest was based upon reasonable suspicion that he was indeed involved in the commission of theft and break in at Maun Wildlife office and that his detention was necessary in order for the police to investigate his suspected involvement in the matter. The Police insist that Leburu was in no way subjected to any form of abuse or torture during his encounter with them and as such they have no knowledge of injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
The defendants further deny liability for the sum of P1.4 million as they insist that all their actions were justified and lawful under the circumstances, and consequently applied for the dismissal of the suit with costs. The case was heard before Judge Justice Barnabas Nyamadzabo at the Francistown High Court.