- Minister says cases are still under investigation
- Kapinga says police cannot investigate themselves
Action is yet to be taken against police officers accused of abuse and assaulting citizens during the State of Emergency (SoE), The Botswana Gazette has established.
There have been numerous cases of abuse and assault against members of Botswana Police Service (BPS) and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) on “innocent” citizens since the declaration of the first SoE in April 2020.
On 11April 2020, the Office of the President (OP) noted that President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s “great concern” over cases of assault by some members of law enforcement agencies. The communique also stated that the President and the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, had instructed that the Commissioner of Police to investigate the cases as matter of urgency.
Botswana will exit an 18-month long SoE at the end of September.
Almost a year and half later, Minister Mmusi told this publication this week: “You need to understand that everything is being followed and the matter is before the Commissioner of Police.”
The Police Commisioner of Police, Keabetswe Makgophe, was not available at the time of going to press while BPS spokesman Dipheko Motube had not responded to this publication’s questions.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence, Justice and Security Committee, Kenny Kapinga, says there is no way that the police can investigate themselves. Kapinga, who is the MP for the Okavango, is a former deputy commissioner of police.
“Recommendations have been long made that the government should set up an independent authority to investigate reports against the police, but for some reason that has not been done,” he told The Botswana Gazette.
“You will have to be lucky to find a police officer who is impartial and fair to investigate such issues. That is why the law advises the help of any leader in the community to assist in such issues. We cannot entrust the police with the responsibility of investigating themselves.”
He confirmed that issues of abuse, assault and use of force by police on citizens have reached his parliamentary committee. “The committee engaged the Police Commissioner just recently and it was one of the issues that were discussed,” he said. “We understood that he was caught up in a dilemma. Some feel that police are too lenient while some felt the police were using too much force on citizens. I have encountered similar cases in my capacity as a private lawyer. I have a client who is suing the police for assaulting them.”
He disclosed that his committee will present a report on these issues to Parliament in the near future.