Police officers suspended following disappearance of a suspect
Three Molepolole police officers have been suspended in connection with the case of a man who mysteriously went missing while in custody a year ago.
Two special constables and a Sub-Inspector were suspended two weeks ago to pave way for investigations following advice from the Directorate of Public Prosecution.
“It is true, the officers have been suspended in connection with the matter,” confirmed Botswana Police spokesperson, Christopher Mbulawa.
The officers are being investigated on the disappearance of Olefile Momphitlhi, a young man whose family suspect was tortured to death after his arrest.
“We suspect he was killed because the police tried to destroy every trace of his detention. A cell register, occurrence book and his property all went missing. The police have failed to produce them,” explained the missing man’s Cousin, Botshelo Kgatitswe.
Molepolole Police arrested and detained Momphitlhi, a taxi drive, in August 2011, in connection with a robbery case in which he was alleged to have aided the robbers by transporting them to and from Gaborone.
However his family alleges that the following day he was reported to have escaped from police custody under mysterious circumstances.
“We searched everywhere for him in vain. But a few days later his younger brother received a message on his cellphone. The message read,” My brother tell mum that I have escaped to South Africa and that I would visit next year,” told Momphitlhi’s Aunt, Annah Laolang.
She said initially they thought the message was sent by Momphitlhi but following a tip that Momphitlhi could have been killed, the family started their independent investigation. It later turned out that the number used to send the message was from a phone which the police exhibit were holding as an exhibit for a different matter.
“We traced the owner of the phone and he confirmed that indeed it was an exhibit on a pending matter before the police,” added Laolang.
She said the revelations confirmed their fears that there could have been foul play in Momphitlhi’s disappearance.
As the family dug more into the matter they demanded records of his arrest but the police allegedly could not find the documents.
“We demanded to see, the occurrence book, the cell register, prisoner’s property and were told that they were missing,” added another relative, Noel Mmopi.
Mmopi went on to say that they suspect that Momphitlhi was tortured and suffocated to death since he was an asthmatic.
Meanwhile the Molepolole Station Commander Andrew Bosilong denied knowledge of the matter and said he was not aware that his officers had ever arrested Momphitlhi.
Even after confirmation from the police spokesperson, Bosilong still denied it and said in fact the officers were at the office and on duty.