Local time: Thursday, 19 October 2017 23:42:37hrs
I am looking for: 

Office of the President (OP)
Government Concerned by false and alarmist reporting; Police...
09/06/11

Government Concerned by false and alarmist reporting; Police Commissioner refutes false reports; Botswana Police Service is an apolitical institution, whose mandate includes the protection of life and property

The Government of Botswana wishes to put on record its concern about a growing number of misleading and/or false reports appearing in various media outlets in relation to the ongoing strike action by a segment of the public service.

Some of these reports are clearly based on deliberate disinformation, as well as the elevation of unsubstantiated rumour and simple exaggeration, which taken together are seemingly calculated to promote a climate of undue alarm.

Further to the above and contrary to what has been alleged on the front page of at least two newspapers, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Thebeyame Tsimako yesterday held a media briefing during which he issued a statement refuting reports that members of the Botswana Police Service fired rubber bullets at protestors in central Gaborone on Wednesday night, while giving an account of the events of the evening.

In this respect, it may be noted that the front page pictures showing a certain individual with a leg injury portray an injury that was clearly not caused by a rubber bullet or any other projectile fired by Police.

In his briefing the Commissioner also observed that:

"...some of the media houses have published articles and made announcements, suggesting that the Police have acted outside of the law by amongst others; allegedly using rubber bullets to disperse peaceful demonstrators and detaining innocent under-age children. Some of you have even gone to the extent of alleging that a police officer and a teacher were killed during the ongoing strike. These allegations, to my knowledge as the Commissioner of Police are devoid of any truth."

While confirming that the Police Service "have dealt with some ugly scenes which called for our intervention" during the course of the strike, the Commissioner went on to further assure members of press present that:

"the current strike has been peaceful despite these minor incident and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved, including Union leaders, for having ensured that the strike was held in a peaceful mood. But of course there are those who have tried to provoke the situation by their disorderly conduct."

For media houses who may not have already received it, the full text of the Police Commissioner's statement is reproduced below.

Government further wishes to refute reports that Ministers were seriously threatened and otherwise had to flee from audiences during their ongoing consultations.

While it is true that a few meetings were cancelled, elsewhere throughout the country consultative meetings have been taking place without serious incident, albeit in some cases with staged walkouts by small numbers of participants

Further to the above it is not true that any of H.H. the Vice President's kgotla meetings in Shoshong and Mahalapye earlier this week were seriously disrupted, much less called off.

While in Mahalapye and Shoshong there occurred a walkout by a handful of apparent strike sympathisers at the start of the consultation, the meetings were otherwise well attended and proceeded without incident as is indeed reflected in other media reports.

MEDIA BRIEF BY THE COMMISSIONER OF THE BOTSWANA POLICE SERVICE, MR. THEBEYAME TSIMAKO, AT BOTSWANA POLICE HEADQUARTERS, GBORNES 3rd JUNE, 2011:

1. Bagaetso, I have decided to arrange this Media conference to meet and discuss with you media people, about some events associated with the ongoing Civil Servants' strike, that have called for police intervention.

2. Before I talk about particular incident, I would like to state for the record that the Police are not the enemies of the community. The Botswana Police Service is an apolitical institution, whose mandate includes the protection of life and property. This we do without taking sides and always applying our minds to the principles of civility, even in situations that would otherwise require the use of force.

3.  This we have ably demonstrated as we deal with matters of public order and security with regards to the current situation of the civil servants strike. As you are no doubt aware, some of the media houses have published articles and made announcements, suggesting that the Police have acted outside of the law by amongst others; allegedly using rubber bullets to disperse peaceful demonstrators and detaining innocent under-age children. Some of you have even gone to the extent of alleging that a police officer and a teacher were killed during the ongoing strike. These allegations, to my knowledge as the Commissioner of Police are devoid of any truth.

4. But having said that, it is true that we have dealt with some ugly scenes which called for our intervention. In the last Press Statement we informed you that we had recorded 18 incidents reported in Gaborone, Gantsi, Hukuntsi, Mahalapye, Mochudi, Mogoditshane, Molepolole, Moshupa, Ramoutswa, Selebi-Phikwe and Thamaga.

5. I would like to categorically state for the record that in all these interactions, the police used minimum or no force at all to disperse or arrest those who were involved.

6. Bagaetsho, as you are aware, the current strike has been peaceful despite these minor incident and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved, including Union leaders, for having ensured that the strike was held in a peaceful mood. But of course there are those who have tried to provoke the situation by their disorderly conduct. For instance, on Wednesday evening, the situation turned intimidating when some strikers, armed with tree branches and sticks, blocked the roads, threatened motorists and burnt some refuse on the road near the Princess Marina traffic circle. The police were called in to intervene and they used para-illuminating signals to improve visibility as it was dark.

7. On hearing the cracking sound of the lights, the strikers hurriedly dispersed and in the aftermath of all of these, a man was found with a broken leg and taken to hospital. The truth of the matter regarding the Wednesday event is that the police fired warning shots into the air using rubber bullets at a different spot to the one where the injured man was found. It therefore follows that the allegation that the police shot and injured the man in question is false.

8. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate my earlier position that as an organization, we will always do our work within the confines of the law. But when the situation calls for our intervention, we shall do so without fear or favour.


 

Printable version
Copyright © 2011 Government of Botswana. All rights reserved.