Wild wild west

Francinah Baaitse Mmana
ACCUSED: Gabanatsela

Emotions ran dangerously high at Maun Police Station on Wednesday morning when the prime suspect in a cold-blooded murder that sent shockwaves across Ngamiland returned from his first court appearance.

“Is this the man who killed our son!” demanded one of the men, unleashing unbridled fury from a group of men who charged towards the cowering accused, a 52-year-old driver in the department of Broadcasting Services.

Baying for blood, the incensed mob grabbed the suspect, Gopolang Gabanatsela by his clothes in an attempt to take justice into their own hands.

Fortunately, the police quickly intervened.

According to family members, the men had gone to the police station to enquire about their gunned down relative, Taolo Serapelano’s murder when his alleged killer, Gabanatsela walked in with a police escort from court.

Gabanatsela is facing a single charge of murder after he allegedly snuffed out Taolo’s life with a single bullet to the back of the head this Sunday.

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The deceased’s cousin, 32-year-old Diphuka Kerepile says he witnessed the entire bloody scene.

“He shot Taolo on the back of the head. He was trying to run away.”

Speaking to The Voice from Taolo’s home in Sanyedi ward shortly after Gabanatsela’s meeting with the mob, Kerepile explained the trouble began the previous day.

“On Saturday we mounted two horses and rode to the neighbouring Samedupi village. Just before we reached Samedupi Bridge, a 4.2 land cruiser belonging to Information Services passed by. Suddenly it stopped and reversed towards us. Mogotsi Seboko was driving but it was Gabanatsela, a passenger in the same car who asked Taolo where he got the horse he was riding. Before Taolo could give an explanation, Gabanatsela opened a gun case and we took off,” narrated Kerepile, adding they fled back to the nearby settlement of Dauga.

“On the way I asked Taolo about the horse and he said he had borrowed it from a friend.”

Kerepile said they left the horses in Dauga, travelling the 15km back to Maun on donkeys.

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According to Kerepile, early the following morning, they again set off for Dauga on donkey back.

However, just as they were about to arrive home, a Nissan Double Cab with Information Services sticker sped passed, stopping a short distance ahead of them. The vehicle did not have a number plate.

“I was riding my donkey in front of Taolo’s. But as the two men alighted from the vehicle we stopped. It was the same men from the day before, Gabanatsela and Seboko. When they came out of the car, Gabanatsela was carrying a gun. He cocked it and Seboko pointed at me and said, ‘He is the one,’ but Gabanatsela replied, ‘No he is not,’ and they both approached Taolo who was still straddling the donkey,” continued Kerepile.

He went on to describe how the men suddenly grabbed Taolo and brought him down.

“‘Bring the rope, let’s tie him up,’ Gabanatsela said to Seboko. But since they were holding him by his coat he managed to wrestle it off and tried to run. That is when Gabanatsele opened fire and hit him on the head from the back,” Kerepile said.

He claims Gabanatsela then calmly walked to the car while an apparently stunned Seboko stood there, shouting, ‘You have committed murder!’

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“But Gabanatsela walked on anyway and started the car. Seboko had to run and jump into the already moving car.”

Kerepile said he left the bleeding Taolo on the ground, mounted a donkey and rushed to call relatives while the two Information Services men drove back to Maun where they continued with official duties of the day.

To add salt to Taolo’s family’s raw wounds, they say the horse that allegedly led to the murder did not even belong to Gabanatsela.

“The horse is not his. The police know the owner and investigations are still ongoing,” maintained Taolo’s uncle, Thethebatso Kerepile, 47. Apparently Gabanamotse had liked the horse and expressed his intention to buy it from the owner.

The father of the deceased, Fane Serapelano was besides himself with grieve and said he was failing to come to terms with the sudden loss of his only son over a cause they are yet to know.

“Taolo was a very good son who never gave me any reason to worry. He was not a criminal, he does not even have a police record,” he said.

Meanwhile, the case is said to be in initial stages of investigations and Gabanatsela has been remanded in custody to reappear on 29th June for status hearing.

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