A 33-year-old man of Maun is in the process of suing Botswana Police service (BPS) for the damage they have caused to his good reputation after they wrongfully published his identity and picture on their Facebook page as a wanted criminal suspect.
In a case of mistaken identity, Emanuel Mokgwathi of Botshabelo ward in Maun was two weeks ago advertised as a wanted man for a Burglary and theft offence that allegedly took place in Gaborone and members of the public were requested to contact Broadhurst police station in Gaborone or any nearest police station about his whereabouts.
“Luckily I had never gone to Gaborone on the days of the alleged offence and I have alibis. I was shocked when people called me and asked me about the crime,” explained Mokgwathi in an interview this week.
He said that when he saw the notification on BPS Facebook page he went to Maun police station to find out what was happening.
“I was referred to CID [criminal investigation department) and the story I got was that there was a certain Emmanuel whom the police was after. They said he was playing cat and mouse game with them as he kept promising to report himself to the police but never did. Interestingly it appears the police had his contact details and I still don’t understand why they ended up mixing me up in all this; using my pictures and all other details of mine,” said the visibly upset man who works in one of the chain clothing stores in Maun.
“This has created problems for me, I cannot go anywhere without people pointing fingers at me, in fact these days I spend more days explaining myself to even strangers, our customers and relatives. This has tainted me terribly as some think I am only trying to hide the truth, this is so sad especially when you consider that it was done by an organisation which knows better what investigations entail. How can they be so casual and careless about another person’s image?” Asked Mokgwathi
“If they knew I stayed in Botshabelo as they stated, why then didn’t they go there to find me! They know my work place, why didn’t they follow me there?They basically knew every thing about me, they even had my photo,” he said.
Mokgwathi further maintained that even though the police pulled down the post following the complaint he had lodged with Maun police station, at the time of the interview law enforcement officers had done nothing to clear his name.
“People have shared the post as it is, and some have made screenshots which are circulating. This will follow me for the rest of my life because in today’s technological world nothing is ever deleted completely, for any progression recommendation, a new job opportunity and related matters, potential employers check the internet to see what you have been up to, imagine now if this image pops up instead, I’ll be doomed for life!” further lamented Mokgwathi.
Meanwhile the police did acknowledge the case but would not go into details regarding the matter.
In fact BPS head of public relations unit, Dipheko Motube said that his organisation was not going to address Mpkgwathi’s matter through the media.
“Tell him to contact me,” Motube curtly remarked when asked about the matter.