BOTSWANA LAW ENFORCEMENT-Cabinet recently observed a moment of silence to remember George Perry Floyd, a black man viciously murdered with impunity in the streets of Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis which sparked wide spread protests and condemnation across the world.
Our leaders have no right to condemn what happened in the Minneapolis, as it happens here in Botswana on a regular basis.
It is deceitful and repulsive for President Masisi and his team to observe a moment of silence over the brutality and lawlessness that ended George Floyd’s life at the hands of agents of the state when in Botswana acts of brutality and lawless are carried out against opponents of the regime through intimidation, harassment, abuse and torture from our own law enforcement officers and embraced gleefully.
A new aberration has emerged, where the president of Botswana believes that those who oppose him should be punished, but that those who support him should be free to do as they please. This has been evident is the selective manner that the state investigates social media publications, with a pattern of investigations on posts that the leadership does not agree with. And turning a blind eye to baffling malicious and false claims circulating on social media against opposition leaders by what seems to be agents of the state. It is hypocritical that the government has the audacity to condemn an act of state brutality in another country whilst at the same time harassing its own citizens in Botswana. Torture and abuse of human rights has become a norm in our country and neither the leadership nor cabinet has spoken out against this brazen cruelty.
Following the hurried launch of the state of emergency, soldiers and police were seen harassing people on the streets without any reasonable grounds. In one incident the president, under pressure from citizens had to visit one of the affected families of a citizen who was assaulted while peacefully at home.
The spokesperson of the Botswana Patriotic Front was taken by unknown state agents at night while on self isolation at home and tortured. Surprisingly Cabinet has not observed a minute of silence to remember this, and the abuse meted out on other helpless and defenseless citizens. Torture, police brutality and human rights abuse must first STOP here in Botswana before being condemned abroad as charity begins here at home.
It is very unfortunate that to date the government of Botswana refuses to establish an Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate all cases relating to misconduct by the police. Members of the public who are aggrieved and have been abused by the police find themselves having to report to the same police to investigate themselves. This is shameful and the hallmark of regimes where members of the Police Force are used as political pawns. An Independent Police Complaints Commission will provide oversight and increase public confidence in the police by investigating serious complaints and allegations of misconduct against the police.
The CAVA regime should introspect and seriously reflect on the essentiality of confronting widespread police abuse and the danger of trading such for political expediency.
Biggie G Butale
Botswana Patriotic Front