Original Post Date: 2009-05-19 Time: 03:00:14 Posted By: Jan
By Lekopanye Mooketsi
Frequent shooting of suspects by security agents has now become commonplace. On Wednesday night, a Gaborone man, John Kalafatis, died in a hail of bullets fired by security agents at Extension 12, in Gaborone.
Kalafatis, who was a passenger in a two-door car, was shot execution style at a car wash, next to the Extension 12 shopping complex. This is the second such shooting a in a week. Early in the week, a robbery suspect was shot to death by the police in Ramotswa.
The Wednesday shooting incident at Extension 12 has shocked the man’s family. Says his younger brother, Costa Kalafatis: “I am devastated. My mother who has a heart condition, has had to be taken to a private doctor.”
Costa said the security agents warned him that same day that they were going to kill his brother. He said the agent told him in Setswana that “gompieno re a go mmolaya”. Costa says this was not the first time threats had been made on his brother’s life by security agents.
He says once an armed plainclothes officer who came to their house and said to his mother: “We want your son’s head.” The officer also pointed at their seven year-old brother and warned that he could also go the same way.
Apparently John was wanted by the security agents in connection with an attempted robbery at a Phakalane house belonging to a man believed to be related to a top politician last December.
Relating his ordeal to Mmegi, Costa said he was with his brother on Wednesday late afternoon. They went to a house at the Village where John had left his cellphone to be charged. They found another man at this house and shared drinks with him. He said the people from whom John had gone to collect his cellphone from made them wait a long time because it had no battery and someone had gone to fetch the battery.
Costa said he left John there because he had to go somewhere. When he returned to the house, he did not find John. He went into the police mess at the Village to buy drinks but when he came out, he found his car surrounded by plainclothes security officers. He realised that they were security officers because some of them were armed. Costa says the officers told him that they were looking for his brother and that they were going to kill him.
The officers demanded his cellphone and searched his vehicle thoroughly before ordering him to drive to South Ring Mall and they would follow. The officers warned him that they would shoot if he took any chances.
He said after the security officers let him go at South Ring Mall, he saw his brother in another vehicle at Extension 12. He warned his brother that a squad of security officers were looking for him and that his life was in danger. He told John that security officers could be tailing the vehicle he was in. Minutes after parting with his brother, John heard gunshots which he thought were just warning shots, probably warning the driver to stop. It was around 10.00pm.
Costa says he became so terrified that he called a friend staying at Extension 12 to check what had happened. The friend told him that there had been a shooting.
Costa called an ambulance, but was told to contact the police. “I phoned the Central Police Station and told them that I suspected that my brother had been shot. They said ‘really, is that so?'”
Costa says the person who answered the call said they would send officers to the scene, but when he called again, they hung up. He says when his father came home, he also told him about his fears. The friend, who had witnessed the scene left at around midnight. His brother was only taken to the hospital hours after the shooting incident. He says the people who killed him might have been waiting to make sure that he was dead.
Costa says police officers only came to their house at 12.00 noon the following day yesterday and told them to go and identify the body at the mortuary. Members of the family who were monitored by plainclothes police officers broke down as they viewed John’s body at the mortuary. Costa himself wept uncontrollably. The deceased had bloodstains on the back of his head and on the T-shirt he was wearing. The police barred family members from inspecting the body thoroughly, saying investigations were still at an initial stage.
Meanwhile, a friend of John’s, Tshepho Mosala, has corroborated Costa’s story and says he had also been told by security agents that they were going to kill John. Mosala says in January, he was arrested in connection with the alleged robbery in Phakalane.
Fortunately he had an alibi that proved that he was not around at the time alleged offence was committed. He says John was also not involved. Mosala says when he was told that he was wanted by security agents, he reported to the Directorate of Security and Intelligence (DIS) who handed him to the Broadhurst Police. He was detained for two days and then released. He had handed himself to DIS because he had learnt that the case was being handled from a high level and that DIS had interest in the matter.
Mosala says during his interrogation, a DIS agent told him: “When you see Kalafatis, you must tell him that we are going to kill him.” He accordingly told Kalafatis about the threats on his life, but Kalafatis was too afraid to hand himself in to DIS because they had always abused him. Mosala says a DIS agent (name is withheld) once told him that DIS had been withdrawn from the case but it was now in the hands of five commandos of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
“The DIS agent told me to tell Kalafatis that he was going to be killed whether he handed himself in or not because the order was from above” says Mosala. “We knew they were going to kill him. The security agents told us the order came from high up.” Mosala says he was not surprised to hear that Kalafatis had been killed because security agents never made it a secret that they had been ordered to kill him; that there was a prize on his friend’s head. Many people were offered money to report his whereabouts.
Mosala says he is also aware that he is on the hit list of security agents, hence he is always in the company of other poeple. “I fear for my life,” he says simply. “It could happen any time.” Mosala says he knows that the government will do anything and everything to cover up the execution. He denies that Kalafatis was involved in a number of criminal activities as the police allege and says Kalafatis was never armed.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Christopher Mbulawa, says Kalafatis was shot by soldiers and that the police are investigating. He says the police were not aware about the threats allegedly made by security agents on Kalafatis’ life. But an independent source, who does not want to be named, says Kalafatis had told him two months ago that security agents had been ordered to kill him.