On Wednesday Botswana Police Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe moved swiftly to crack the whip at Thamaga police station where he suspended seven police officers for alleged involvement in various corrupt activities.
The officers were put on suspension pending investigation on allegations of endemic corruption ranging from traffic violation to conniving with some of the notorious ‘Matsetsenkane’ and Merubisi gangs which has been viewed as undermining efforts by the police to crush crime in the village.
After receiving tip-off about the escalating corruption among police officers in Thamaga, Botswana Police Service is said to have deployed members of the special branch to investigate the allegations.
“Covert officers were deployed to the area and it was found that corruption was imbedded in the police station,” revealed the source.
Police Spokesperson Senior Superintendent Near Bagali confirmed that seven officers have been suspended from duty in Thamaga but refused to give reasons.
“It is still an internal matter. We cannot divulge any information except to confirm the suspension,” he said.
According to highly placed sources some of the traffic officers were filmed by a motorist extorting money from other drivers at roadblocks.
“Some of the officers were caught with bribes amounting to over P60 000, they are suspected to have collected from motorists,” revealed the source.
Conniving with gangs
The community of Thamaga has been living in fear from gangs calling themselves Merobisi and Matsetsenkane who terrorise them even on a broad day light.
After the police deployed the Special Support Group (SSG) cadres, the situation came to normalcy but recently the gangs have resurfaced again.
“We realised that some of the officers are friends to the gang leaders and when you report the case of being harassed or beaten by the gangs the police officers just say they will attend the case but to no avail,” revealed the source.
Some of the statements provided by the victims of the gangs are said to have been destroyed by the police who would later claim that the case had not been reported to them.
In 2014 residents raised a concern about the effectiveness of police officers in Thamaga, requesting that all of them be transferred. Their contention was that the police officers were complacent and friends with gang members.
Thamaga West Councilor, Molatedi Selala, requested that all officers be transferred in a kgotla meeting in 2014.
“Police officers have been here for long, they need to be moved as we have been complaining about them for a long time. They have become too friendly with the villagers and this might be the reason that often clouds their judgment,” he said then.
It has emerged that some of the officers who have been suspended were involved with cattle rustling syndicates in the village. The officers were aiding the criminals by writing affidavits for them as proof that the cattle belonged to them.