Police officers traded punches with members of Kwaito-Kwasa group, Mantshwabisi, in Francistown’s city centre yesterday amid dramatic scenes after the cops mistook the artists for music pirates.
The scuffle which left one of the artists nursing a broken jaw, another with a torn vest and a police officer with a bruised ego lasted for about five minutes before both sets of rivals sought the intervention of the police station commander.
According to Mantshwabisi leader, Kago Moses, the incident would not have happened had the police officers behave civilly. “We found the men at our stall in front of Pick N’ Pay. They were confiscating CDS and DVDs saying the products did not have a hologram. I personally pointed out the holograms to them on our products but they would not listen. I demanded their identity badges so as to be certain that they are cops but they refused. When I pointed out to them that I had no reason to believe they were cops unless they produced IDs one of them got angry. He insulted me and held me by the shirt collar. That is when the fight started,” Moses told The Voice.
Moses went on to say that after the fight had ended he, together with his younger brother Kagiso lodged a case of assault against the police officers. “Whilst we were still reporting our case, the plain clothed officers also came into the station and lodged their own case against us saying we had obstructed them from doing their work. As we speak we have not been charged but the Central Police Station Commander has promised to call us soon to let us know whether we will be charged or not,” Moses added.
Francistown Central Police Station Commander, Superintendent Lebalang Maniki, confirmed the incident and said enquiries into the case have started. “At the moment we do not know the truth of the matter and only our investigations will help establish whether or not we charge anybody in connection with each of the allegations,” he said
Meanwhile street vendors who spoke to The Voice at the scene of incident said the Mantshwabisi pair are victims of police corruption.
“The police arrest Batswana who sell genuine CDS and DVDs on the street and let off Zimbabweans who sell pirated stuff because they are willing to pay a bribe to the cops,” said a woman who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
Superintendent Maniki has since dismissed the corruption allegations as nothing but rumour. “At the moment that is just a rumour and we will treat it as such until we prove otherwise. People should come to us with information that can help us in that regard. We do not tolerate corruption and we will act against any officers who get involved in corrupt practices,” Maniki said.