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Off the rails

Leungo Mokgwathi
ACCUSED PHOTOGRAPHER: Alebone Mmila

The long-standing feud between street photographers and security personnel at Rail Park Mall, which turned physical on 21st January, landed before Gaborone West Customary Court last week.

The legal turn was sparked by a guard at Brinsel Security, Thabang Mpitlane, who filed a case of assault against photographer, Alebone Mmila.

The case took an interesting twist, however, when Kgosi Arnold Somolekae turned his attention to Khumo Property Asset Management for seemingly fanning the ill-feeling between the two parties.

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Court heard that on the day in question, an on-duty Mpitlane called Borakanelo Police, claiming to have been assaulted by Mmila, after stopping him from taking pictures at the mall.

In his defence, the accused denied ever physically assaulting Mpitlane.

Instead, Mmila maintained he was caught up in the middle of a group fight that broke out between photographers and mall security intent on kicking them off the premises.

When asked why security would do such, Mpitlane revealed Brinsel Security, which is stationed at Rail Park Mall, are given strict orders by Khumo Properties Management to stop photographers from conducting their business in the area, deemed a private space.

On learning this, Kgosi Somolekae described the policy as absurd.

“Where should these young people go? Considering the current level of unemployment, instead of robbing people, they are trying to make an honest living so I do not see where the problem is! They are not destroying any property nor threatening the security of Batswana by any means so what exactly is the problem?” questioned the Chief.

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In response, Mpitlane argued that he was a mere employee who was adhering to instructions given to him by his superiors.

“I understand that you were only doing as you were told. However, what Khumo Property is doing is just stirring up unnecessary fights between Batswana,” continued Kgosi Somolekae, adding the Property Management Agency needed to be questioned on the matter.

To allow this to happen, he postponed the case until Monday 6 February.

However, on the scheduled day, Borakanelo Police informed court that all charges laid had been dropped, with no explanation given as to why.

Speaking to The Voice from Khumo Properties Rail Park Centre Management, Bonyana Masu confirmed photographers were not allowed on the premises for security reasons.

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“We do not want to be entangled in any shady shenanigans that may arise in association with these people,” she stated.

Masu denied having any knowledge of a physical fight between photographers and security officers, stressing they will continue to keep the ‘hustlers’ off their premises.

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