After 30 years of service in the Botswana Police Service, the affable and good-humoured Motsholathebe Mothibi retired in May this year a contented man. In the three decades that he served, he rapidly rose through the ranks to become Station Commander.
Among the awards that Mothibi has received in recognition of his service to the country and its people are the Jubilee, Long Service and Good Conduct awards. President Ian Khama awarded him the Meritorious Service award at the Botswana Police Day recently. Mothibi remembers fondly his first medal in 1976 when all children born in the independence year at the primary school he went to were awarded medals as they turned 10. For him, this later turned out to have been a harbinger of bigger things to come! Born in 1966 in the Marobela village, one of ‘Motshola’s’ filial duties was the tending of the family cattle and goats alongside his siblings and children from the extended family.
Like most children in the rural areas, he “grew up in an environment of poverty.” As elsewhere in the country, school-going children stayed alone at the village while their parents were, depending on the season of the year, either at the cattle post or ploughing fields. After enrolling at Nyamambisi Primary School in 1973, he had to learn to stay for at least a week away from his parents who were accessible only on weekends when, every Friday afternoon, the school-going children, longing for their parents, walked barefoot, the rough and long roads to the cattle-posts or ploughing fields. Instead of the usual seven years to complete his primary education, young Mothibi sat for his Primary School Leaving Examinations eight years later in 1980 and, as he says, “due to some hiccups.”
In the event, he got a first class and went to McConnell College in Tutume.
“Although I did well enough to proceed to Form 5, I left school after successfully completing my Form 3 in 1983,” revealed debonair Mothibi without giving details. He joined the Botswana Police in April 1984. His brother’s death in 1981 had left a determination in the mind of the fresh-faced lad to learn more about the practice of investigations. “I was intrigued by the mere thought of investigating a crime. The whole incident ignited in me the passion to one day be an investigator,” explained Mothibi who was happy that police investigations had turned up the murderer of his brother. His choice of career may also have been influenced by the fact that his deceased brother was a policeman as well as several of his uncles. After completing his training, he was posted to Orapa where, as a Constable, he was part of the patrolling team. However, due to hard-work and commitment to duty, he, within three months, was removed from the more exacting job of looking out for criminals to the more dignified job of helping at the station registry. It was not long before he was given charge over the registry.
“This was obviously in recognition of my passion for work. I would voluntarily work beyond my shift. I sometimes worked at the registry the entire night even when I was not officially on duty,” he remembered with a sense of nostalgia. After promotion to the rank of Sergeant in 1988, Mothibi was transferred to Nata police station as Station Sergeant. Two years later, he was transferred to Sua Town after being moved up to the rank of Sub-Inspector. “It was like being thrown into the deep-end because, since Sua was a new town without a police station at the time, my mandate was to establish it. My first team there consisted of only six officers including myself,” he stated. His leadership at Sua was challenged by, among things, the prevalence of cattle rustling in the area and the occurrence of a flood which required that those affected be evacuated. Although he does not admit it openly, a sit-in strike by Sua mine workers must have scared him and his charges for they were too thin on the ground to handle a workers’ strike. Mercifully, the standoff between mine management and its employees dissipated.
In 1997, Mothibi, after being elevated to the position of Inspector, was transferred to Francistown as public prosecutor. Back in 1991, he had been sponsored by his employer to do a certificate in law at the University of Botswana. Mindful of the fact that he could not go far without formal education, he went to a night school at Mater Spei College in 1999 where he eventually matriculated. He would once again get a promotion this time to the rank of Assistant Superintendent. In 2004, he was transferred to Shakawe as Station Commander only to be transferred to Francistown less than a year later to take the post of Deputy Station Commander of the Gerald Estates Police Station. In 2007, Mothibi became Station Commander at the same police station. He reached the pinnacle of his career in 2012 when he became the Station Commander of Kutlwano Police Station in Francistown.
As Deputy Station Commander and then Station Commander in Francistown, Mothibi served in several organisations and committees such as BOCCIM, Disaster Management, the Francistown Justice Forum and the Francistown Law Enforcement Committee among others. Feeling empowered enough to contribute to the security of the people at a different level, Mothibi started running a security service company, UYABA Security Service, immediately after his retirement. A happily married man with two sons named, Uyapo and Batsile, respectively, the name of Mothibi’s security solution company derives from the first three letters of his first son’s name and the first two letters of his second son’s name. Remarkably, the company got an award at the BOCCIM trade fair the same month after impressing the judges with its products.
“During my service in the police, I was trained at the International Law Enforcement Agency (ILEA) by the American Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). That way, I acquired intensive knowledge of security. I also protected visiting heads of state. I use advanced technology to track vehicles, laptops, TVs and other items. I also provide security guards for premises as well as installing security cameras,” explained the man who has also provided escort to President Ian Khama and his predecessors, Festus Mogae and Sir Ketumile Masire.