- Manual DNA Analysis Procedures at BPS easy to manipulate - Allegations of rife manipulations during analysis at Forensics Police - The DNA is 99.9% probable - Police - There was no false declaration on the part of the police - PRO Supt Omphile

Seven-year-old Lobatse boy, Tlotso Karema remains missing, but there are allegations that a missing piece in the entire puzzle is the possibility of manipulated Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) by Botswana Police Services.

The family and the nation at large are distraught at the increasing cases of missing people, especially young children. The case has received much attention from the nation.

But what goes unnoticed are allegations of how BPS manipulated the DNA reports to declare Tlotso dead.

Allegations reaching Botswana Guardian are that DNA reports claiming that the bones found along the Kanye road belong to Tlotso were manipulated.

Information leaked to this publication is that the Botswana Police Forensics laboratory is using a manual DNA system in which it is possible and easy to switch samples and manipulate results.

A source within the Botswana Police Forensics has revealed that “it is very easy to manipulate the results, as most analysis processes are manual and the laboratory technicians can easily manipulate samples, the analysis, and result”.

The source revealed that there are many ways in which samples from the crime scene can be switched with a different sample during analysis, adding that even during analysis the system can be manipulated to bring a wrong result.

The source added that “this is happening a lot in rape cases whereby the forensic laboratory officers are colluding with suspects and tampering with analysis, in return for money. In effect, the source said that cases are being sold thereby defeating the ends of justice.

“In rape cases, DNA sample from the victim is the key evidence and if there is manipulation during the analysis stage then a criminal can walk away freely”. The latest available Statistics Botswana Crime Report of 2019 shows a conviction rate of a mere 17 percent in sexual offences.

Tlotso's mother, Kesego Karema told local media outlets that she had never seen the remains that Police claimed were of her son before DNA tests were done, adding that the bones she saw looked like they belong to someone older that had died a long time ago.

The mother has also revealed that she was being coerced into signing the death certificate of Tlotso at the Marina parking lot, which raised her suspicions about the authenticity of the DNA analysis report.

However, responding to this claim, Botswana Police Service Acting Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Selinah Omphile refuted the allegations that BPS officers tried to coerce Tlotso’s mother at the Marina parking lot to sign the death certificate as not true.

Ironically the BPS has at the same time engaged a traditional doctor Paul Keitholetse famously known as Rabeisane to help in the search for the missing child. The move is in contradiction to BPS Forensics' analysis that Tlotso is dead, raising further doubts on the integrity of the DNA report.

“DNA is unique for each individual and no two people can have the same DNA, though related individuals do share some percentage of it. For BPS to have concluded that the bones found were those of Tlotso, there must either be closure to the search operation or nullifying of the DNA report

and continuing the search operation,” another source posited.

The allegations of tampering with forensic samples and DNA reports have raised doubts about the integrity of past investigations and findings. Ideally, all forensics analysis must be under tight controls and systems with no room for manipulation or tampering.

Botswana Police has however dismissed the allegations as false. In response to a questionnaire sent to Botswana Police Service Acting Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Selinah Omphile said the police confirm that DNA was conducted and the results were 99.9 percent probable. She said all the allegations linked to the forensic laboratory are true.

On allegations that the bones found were too big to be of a seven-year-old, and that the skull was too big to be that of a seven-year-old and BPS manipulated DNA results and falsely declared the bones found to be those of Tlotso, Sup Omphile stated that there was no false declaration on the part of the Police.