- Father of deceased accuses police of son’s murder
- Officers allegedly strangled him for resisting being searched
- Police Deny the allegations
- BPS says deceased swallowed some sachets believed to contain drugs
The death of 30-year old Koolopile Koolopile of Maun, following an encounter with members of the Botswana Police Service (BPS), has raised questions of police brutality and whether BPS should be held accountable.
BPS has confirmed Koolopile’s death but denied that he was strangled by police officers.
The deceased, who was the son of the Councillor for Xaranga Ward in Maun, Morolong Mosimanyana, died at Setata veterinary gate last Saturday in the course of a police stop-and-search operation.
A scuffle between the police and Koolopile, who was suspected of carrying drugs on his person, ensued when he resisted being searched.
Koolopile’s politician father has blamed the police for the death of his son and dismissed allegations that Koolopile swallowed some sachets that were believed to contain drugs in order to conceal the drugs.
“My son was with his two friends who saw everything that led to his death,” Mosimanyana said in an interview. “What we got from his two friends is that he resisted when the police wanted to search and a scuffle ensued.
The four police officers managed to handcuff him and proceeded to tie his legs with a rope they borrowed from the personnel manning the veterinary gate. They then wrestled him to the ground and strangled him until he became unconscious.
Fearing that my son could be dying, they poured cold water over him in an attempt to rouse him but my son did not respond. That is when he was taken to hospital where he was certified dead,” said the father.
“How could he take something out of his pockets while handcuffed? It is impossible to do that. The police are trying to defend themselves because they know that they killed my son.”
While the BPS spokesperson, Dipheko Motube denied allegations that the deceased was strangled, he confirmed the death.
According to Motube, the deceased fell unconscious after swallowing sachets that were believed to contain drugs. “Although there was a scuffle between him and members of BPS, he was not strangled,” he said.
“The deceased fell unconscious after swallowing packets suspected to be drugs. Following this, he was taken to Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital where he was subsequently certified dead.”
Motube said the sachets that the deceased swallowed have since been recovered and sent to the police forensic lab for analysis. He added that an inquest is normally conducted in cases of this nature in order to find out if any foul play occurred.
“If there was any foul play, the officer(s) involved will be held accountable and brought before court,” he noted.
Died in police custody
This is not the first time police face such; similar incidents have been reported before. Keabetswe Tony Nyambe died at the Francistown Central Police station holding cells early this year where he was detained for the suspected murder of his own children.
Olefile Moiphithi, who was linked to a robbery in Molepolole and Zenzo Sibanda, a Zimbabwean, died in police custody. Sibanda was allegedly shot dead in the course of an anti-tobacco smuggling near Botswana’s border with Zimbabwe.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi spoke strongly against police brutality in 2020 after pictures of people injured by the police in the course of enforcing lockdown regulations appeared on social media.
The President assured the nation that an investigation into the incidents would ensue. “The government will continue to uphold the rule of law and respect for human rights,” he said.