Tlotso's family rejects DNA findings as police say he has long died

Tlotso Karema (6) who went missing on the 18th of March this year has the entire country up in arms with tears being shed and placards up calling for the return of the child. As the aggrieved masses continue with their threats of unrest, the police are labeled ‘enemy number one,’ with many even suggesting that the police know what happened to the child and they are standing in the way of those who want to locate him.

Police Spokesperson Near Bagali finds this unfair, saying when the child disappeared in March, they are the ones who asked the community to assist them and nobody came forward with any information, until reports came suggesting the child’s remains were finally found.

So furious are Batswana that there were nasty riots in Lobatse on Monday night, leading to the police arresting 10 men who are currently in police custody and likely to be brought before court this Wednesday. At the time of going missing, Tlotso was a standard one pupil at Hill Primary School in Lobatse. He disappeared without a trace after returning from school that day.

But according to the police, the child is dead. “On the 13th April 2022, we received a tip off that some bones were found along the Kanye road. We involved the forensics team on the matter and the DNA pointed to the missing child.”

“Unfortunately when the parents were told, they rejected the bones saying they will be carrying their own independent investigations. We have allowed them to do that so that the matter can be brought to finality,” said Bagali, adding that on their side, they have assembled a strong team that is now casting the net wide on trying to figure out details surrounding the death of the eight-year-old.

While still waiting for the family to bring their own forensic team for investigations, the police were alerted of riot acts happening in Lobatse this week with people who claim to be advocating for human or child rights calling for the return of the child. Things got messy when the police tried to intervene, stones and other objects were hurled at their vans and in the process four police cars were left vandalised and some police officers injured.

Bagali said from the little they have gathered, there are people who told the family that Tlotso is still alive and they can locate the child. However, the biggest worry for the police is that there is no how these knowledgeable people are going to go about their business without causing public unrest.

“What is to happen if their way of doing things lands them in someone’s yard? With the way emotions are highly charged right now, we have every right to believe that whoever that person will be, might be attacked. And after attacking that person, what prove will they have that they are guilty? We fear that even the innocent might be falsely accused and we find that the situation has quickly gotten out of control,” he said.

The police boss warned that they are now monitoring the situation with a hawk’s eye. They do not want a repeat of Monday evening events and vow not to fold arms while Lobatse burns - those who incite violence will be dealt with accordingly.

“I plead with all to be calm and address this with sober minds, we are not against anything that will help bring back the child for those doubting our findings. We have begged for help in the past and no one came forward, why is it that now people are so angry at us? Why should Batswana engage in a remedy that will not help us with anything? The law needs to be respected at all times, the country is anchored on the rule of law,” said Bagali.

Asked what has happened with the bones they found in April believed to be those of Tlotso, Bagali said they are still holding onto them. “We are keeping them to help the family with investigations but obviously we will not wait for 20 years, a decision will be taken when the time is right on what to do. But we truly believe that with time, sanity will prevail and people will look at the matter differently. We really do understand their pain right now.”