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My near death encounter with the police

Sharon Mathala
DEEPLY WOUNDED: Ramokotshwana Daniel Lentswe

A quick visit to an ATM after the 8 pm curfew has ended up as a life-altering nightmare for 27-year-old Ramokotshwana Daniel Lentswe who suffered serious injuries at the hands of the Police for breaking the law.

Brutalized and traumatised, Lentswe admitted in an interview this week that he was wrong to be out on the streets past curfew time but insisted police were cruel to assault him to the degree they did and almost kill him.

Narrating his ordeal he said, “I was supposed to sleepover at my homeboy’s house in block 7 when the other guy asked us to drive him to the ATM. It was a little after midnight and so the three of us left home.”

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Unfortunately for the trio, they met the Police and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldiers on patrol, an encounter, which would leave them with broken bones, stitches, blue eyes and bruised faces.

BASHED:Lentswe\’s head bashed with a rock

“When we saw the police, I tried to run away so they would not see us but unfortunately they had already spotted us and therefore gave chase.” Said Lentswe struggling to speak.

According to Lentswe, the Police officers did not even ask questions as they descended on him with fists and boots.

“They did not even say anything. They punched and kicked me until I fell to the ground. One of them then took a rock and repeatedly bashed my head with it and I could feel the wetness from my blood. I did not know which part of the body the blood was coming from.”

“I could hear them say they were going to kill me and Ba nkgaola d*th**a (they said they will castrate me). I blacked out and regained consciousness at the police office, ” he said.

The men were locked up overnight, sent to the hospital the following day and charged P 5, 000 each although Lentswe eventually got away with paying P 3, 000only after he pleaded with the police to pay them what he could afford.

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“Yes we were wrong to be out at that time but the level of force meted out to us for the offence by the police was unwarranted because we posed no harm to them,” he argued

Meanwhile, the Botswana Police spokesperson Dipheko Motube when asked to comment on increasing cases of police brutality against citizens, especially during the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) admitted that whilst there seemed to be an increase in reports of police brutality most of them have turned out to be baseless and unsubstantiated.

BRUTALIZED: Boemo Disang
BRUTALIZED: Boemo Disang

“We do take such reports seriously and we institute internal investigations and I will tell you that most of the reports of police brutality are unsubstantiated,” Motube said.

Motube rhetorically asked, “In fact what is Police brutality? I think we should define that first. After that let’s then look at the subject and what their role was in the whole incident. We do not attack and or brutalize citizens; most of these cases are not true upon further probing. Most of the cases do not materialize and most times the citizens come back to police officers to apologise,” he said.

However, Motube admitted that should citizens resist arrest the Police are allowed to use minimal force.

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“And Minimal force is determined by what sort of threat the opponent poses.”

Motube further pleaded with the media to report such cases of ‘police brutality’ fairly and ask for both sides of the story.

The Police mouthpiece said they have noted a worrying trend of one-sided reports from the media.

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