November 6, 1994
Mochudi, Botswana
14-year-old Segametsi Mogomotsi is found murdered and mutilated

Mogomotsi was last seen by her brother on November 5, as she was going through their village of Mochudi in attempts to raise money for a charity project. Her half-nude, mutilated body was found the following day. Some of Mogomotsi’s body parts had been removed in what was suspected to be a ritualistic murder involving dipheko, a ceremony using muti (medicine) derived from a victim’s body parts which is used to enhance business and political dealings.

Family and friends at the unveiling ceremony of Segametsi Mogomotsi’s gravestone
via The Monitor

Four men were taken into custody in relation to Mogomotsi’s murder, including her father. The three other men were wealthy businessmen, and each of their houses became targets of arson attacks by Mogomotsi’s classmates who were outraged by her murder. All suspects were later released.

When police were unable to charge a suspect after several months of investigations, citywide riots began in Mochudi as well as Botswana’s capital of Gaborone, in what was called the worst state of civil unrest since the country’s independence from Britain in 1966. The rioting lasted several days with protestors throwing stones at businesses and blocking motorists from entering the business district, in a bid to financially harm the three businessmen suspects in Mogomotsi’s case. Demonstrators also attempted to storm into parliament but were blocked by guards. Police responded to the riots by firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into the crowds of student protestors, and the South African Press Association reported riot police stormed a school to club students, leaving several hospitalized. At least one protestor was killed during the several-day-long riots.

Destruction during the riots
via @KgosiNkgosi on Twitter

The country’s government requested the assistance of Scotland Yard to close Mogomotsi’s case, but when the investigations concluded there were still no suspects. The case remains unsolved.

“Twenty years have passed,” Segametsi’s mother Nana Mogomotsi said during an interview, “but I have heard nothing about my daughter. Not even a single police officer coming to my house or calling the other siblings. … The last time I communicated with the police was in 1994 and I have never bothered to ask the police about the results of the Scotland Yard investigation.”

Segametsi’s brother has set up a petition with the help of a friend, with the hopes of re-opening the case. The petition also asks for Scotland Yard to contact the family regarding the findings of their investigation, for investigators to keep in regular contact with the family to update them about the case, and for police to offer an apology to the family for their treatment.

Chilume, Oteng. “A little-known history of youth activism.” Good Governance Africa. July 9, 2018. Accessed: November 6, 2020.
Mathala, Sharon. “Segametsi unveiling reminder of uncompleted investigations.” The Monitor. April 27, 2015. Accessed: November 6, 2020.
Maleke, Lerato. “Segametsi: A 20-year search for answers.” Mmegi. November 14, 2014. Accessed: November 6, 2020.
“One time prime suspect in Segametsi murder case dies.” Sunday Standard. March 24, 2011. Accessed: November 6, 2020.
Burke, Charlanne. “They Cut Segametsi Into Parts: Ritual Murder, Youth, and the Politics of Knowledge in Botswana.” Anthropological Quarterly. George Washington Institute for Ethnographic Research. Volume 73, Number 4, October 2000.
“Scotland Yard sleuths leave without killer.” The Times [Shreveport, Louisiana]. March 25, 1995
“Unsolved murder of teen-ages prompts residents to riot.” Rocky Mount Telegram. February 20, 1995
“Police patrol Botswana’s capital after rioting over girl’s murder.” The Herald [Miami, Florida]. February 19, 1995
“Rioting in Botswana Worst in 30 Years.” The Scranton Times. February 18, 1995

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