It may seem as if Bosilong has never really cared about his near-celebrity status as a top cop in the Kweneng precinct. His handling of assistant minister Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri case against listless Simon Tafi; the 2010 public service strike and the P1 million law-suit slapped against him by a Molepolole businessman mean that he is never far from headlines.
But Molepolole Station Commander relishes the attention. “Ask anyone about Bosilong, they will tell you. They have seen me on TV,” he curls his lips into a smug smile. “Ask anyone. Anywhere.” He then narrates how young people post on Facebook their experiences and appreciation of his work – with some advocating for immediate promotion.
“For me, it is not about positions. It is about serving the people,” he says in a reassuring voice. At 61, the father of four from Good Hope should have retired, but became the first middle management police officer to work on a contract. His one-year contract ends in three months. Brawny, with intense, steely eyes, Bosilong is not your run of the mill police officer.
Years of investigating stock theft as a youthful constable – some 39 years ago - has shaped him into a resourceful cop. During his stay in Molepolole, positive results are trickling in – and have delighted Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Gladys Kokorwe and Thamaga chief, Gobuamang Gobuamang who led a team to Commissioner of Police to plead for his extension when he was due for retirement.
Thebeyame Tsimako (retired) was convinced and made history by requesting Bosilong, a fervent farmer, to work on contract. Bosilong refuses to discuss details of his new contract. “Before we start talking further…” in digression, he swerves his chair. “…Let me show you something,” he smirks, as he points to a “crime analysis” scoreboard on the wall.
“This is what I have been doing.” Since he came into office in 2008, crime has been on a decline in Molepolole. It did not come as a surprise when he scooped a prestigious Crime Reduction Award in 2012. Generally, offences reported to Molepolole police station declined by 6.8 percent between 2011 and 2012, led mostly by a significant decline in incidences relating to a breach of the Panel Code, which nosedived 10.4 percent under the same period.
“When I came here, I spent my first six months analysing crime.” He discovered a winning formula and now enjoys watching crime figures taking a nosedive. Take for example, between 2010 and 2011, reported offences declined by 33.4 percent, a sign that his cluster policing is effective.
Many view Bosilong as a David Starsky - that loudmouthed wannabe macho cop in a crime comedy known for his blunders than brains. Honestly, he is not that type. “I took charge during strike. Strategically I ensured that there was peace and tranquility,” he says in relation to a 2010 salary hike strike by civil servants. This earned him the confidence of many in the village. Ask Gerhardus Hattie Jansen, a farmer in Molepolole who believes Bosilong is “hands on and leads from the front.”
“We started an anti-crime unit and he has been very supportive,” Jansen notes and adds that the unit, which initially focused on breaking livestock crimes, has expanded to other forms of crime. “There is a marked difference. .” He has also been in the centre of controversy and has rubbed many people the wrong way. “Of course some people hate me more than is necessary,” he complains. He believes some people with ill motives were behind Tafi’s wrangle with Matlhabaphiri.
He bridles when asked if he encouraged Tafi’s wife to sleep with Matlhabaphiri as he is “wealthy” and could easily take care of the illegitimate child. “You know the media has its own way of interpreting incidents… I think it is to maximise sales,” he says, more to himself than anyone else. “I also did not say that people should stone robbers,” he explains and adds that a local newspaper had misquoted him.
He claims to have been responding to a question from a member of the public who wanted to know how police react when attacked by criminals. “I answered by explaining that we are empowered to use minimum force.” He endured “insults” from magistrate Thabo Malambane and Tafi’s lawyer, Aobakwe Monamo during a marriage wrecking case as he was summoned to court. “But the media never reported that,” he protests violently. “I am a seasoned police officer.
How can I say I do not know my Deputy Police Commissioner?” he said in response to questions that he claimed not to be aware of neither the mandate of Botswana Police nor the deputy Commissioner of Police.
But why would he attract so much controversy? There are many detractors willing to pull him down, he says simply. “Strategically something was happening,” he explains.Bosilong admits the same media that has given him near celebrity status has tainted his reputation for integrity, but is anxious to rebut reports that he defamed a Molepolole businessman, Thuso Mashapa, after he was reported to have said he spotted a vehicle “offloading” meat at Mashapa’s premises.
Mashapa had claimed P1 million in damages, but Justice Michael Leburu awarded him P10 000. Even today, Bosilong is at a loss to understand why he lost the case. “His (Mashapa) statement is totally false. This is malicious accusation against me. I took action (appeal).”
Will he accept another extension to his contract? “That is not in my mind, it involves a lot of other people and my family,” he says. As a cattle farmer, he could also concentrate on his passion – cattle breeding. “I have got nice bulls in Barolong farms.” And would also want to have enough time to write a book on his life after being inspired by Ketumile Masire, David Magang and Kgalemang Motlantlhe’s biographies.
He could not be drawn into stock theft case that involved Bakwena royal leader, Kgosi Kgosikwena Sebele. However, available statistics show that cases of stock theft declined from 87 in 2011 to 83 when compared to the previous year, representing a decrease of 4.5 percent. This is because there is a booming market for stolen livestock despite punitive laws.
As one farmer puts it, livestock theft is a complex and dangerous undertaking in Kweneng as syndicates cooperate with some “clever police.” Unlike in February 1974 when he was a fresh-faced constable at Central Police Station, crime has become increasingly sophisticated and demands a similar response. Asked if this requires arming officers, Bosilong shrugged. “Strategy,” he says as he reaches for his favourite word. And lowers his voice,
“It is for the authorities to decide.” As he walks out of the office at lunchtime, he is confronted by a beeline of customers waiting their turn on benches. “I am going to have a long day,” he says.