OLD WOMAN BREAKS ARM IN SCUFFLE WITH COPS
‘No police mans allowed pliss,’ declares the bold notice scribbled into the Rakgabo family’s rusty gate that guard’s entrance to their rented home in Selibe Phikwe.
The family have accused Botshabelo Police of continued abuse, including a severe beating that left their 59-year-old mother a bloody mess.
Sitting by the veranda last Tuesday, a crutch on the ground beside her, heavy bandages wrapped around her left foot and arm, Margaret Sehuta Rakgabo is in obvious pain.
According to the old woman, exactly a week ago, officers battered her black and blue for attempting to come to her son’s aid during a heavy-handed arrest.
“They smashed my arm with a baton. I thought my hand was cut in half as blood was squirting out heavily. As I listened to my hand, a police boot crushed down on my left foot and I fell down,” narrates Margaret, who is a sought-after traditional doctor in the Botshabelo area.
Speaking rapidly, her anger rising with each sentence, Margaret said the trouble started the previous evening (Monday 1 March), when her son, Ontefetse Rakgabo turned up with a gunshot wound to the thigh.
“The police shot him with a rubber bullet for no reason!” she exclaimed, her thin face wincing at the memory.
The following morning, as Margaret was getting ready for her job at Ipelegeng, a police van parked up outside their yard.
“Six policemen dropped from the car and proceeded to the house where my son was. They started beating him, using a baton stick and he fell down. I could not stomach the pain of seeing my son being beaten like a dog, so I went to them and asked them not to beat him but to arrest him nicely if indeed he did something wrong.”
Margaret says she paid for her bravery with a broken arm and two broken toes.
“After I fell, my granddaughter, who is a nursing mother to a one-month-old baby, came from the house crying that the police cannot beat me and she was slapped with a hot clap!”
While all this was happening, Ontefetse, 30, sought refuge inside his younger brother’s room, locking himself in.
“The police broke open the door. He tried to run but they hit him with a log and then pulled him on the ground before throwing him in their car. They wanted to arrest me, saying I obstructed them from doing their job but I refused to go with them. After some minutes, other police officers came and took me to the station. I was about to drink tea so I can take my medication and they forced me to leave everything,” seethed Margaret, adding she was only taken to the hospital after spending most of the day at the police station.
She is scheduled to return to hospital on 23 March to plaster her broken arm.
Detailing the events that led to the Tuesday showdown, Agnes Odisetse, who rents in the same yard as Ontefetse in the North of Phikwe, revealed the police came to their place three times the previous night.
“They were issues of boyfriend and girlfriend cheating between my son, Uyapo and others. They wanted to arrest my son but Ontefetse told them they can’t as he did nothing wrong. They left but came back armed with guns and shot Ontefetse on the hip. His injury keeps oozing blood and water. Botshabelo police always beat people and we are tired!” complained the 57-year-old Odisetse.
Unfortunately, efforts to get hold of Ontefetse proved unsuccessful. He does not have a phone and was not around when The Voice visited Phikwe on Tuesday.
“We were with him at the weekend but he did not sleep at his girlfriend’s last night. I’m not sure where he is,” admitted Margaret, who did not seem too worried.
Meanwhile, Botshabelo Station Commander, Elias Malope maintained his police officers were acting in self-defence and had been attacked by the Rakgabo family first.
“Some of the officers were injured. They were bitten, stones were also thrown at the police by the family members. During the arrest, Ofentse got in the house and brought a knife to attack the police.
“The family should tell you the whole story. Ontefetse has some cases, including common nuisance and assault common, to be taken to court and his mother also has to be arraigned for obstructing the police officers. They might be arraigned this Wednesday,” declared Malope.