Radio Mochudi interview with Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu
Interviewer: Today we meet one of Botswana’s top detectives, Assistant Superintendent David Bengu of the Gaborone CID – that’s the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. Superintendent Bengu, welcome to our Personality Profile programme.
Kubu: Thank you for inviting me.
Interviewer: I believe your friends and colleagues call you Kubu. That means hippopotamus in Setswana. Where does the nickname come from?
Kubu: (Laughs) Well, I’m a very large man, and some people think I’m slightly overweight. Actually, my wife thinks I’m quite a lot overweight! And I’m a friendly soul…unless I’m crossed. Call me Kubu; everyone else does.
Interviewer: Well, Kubu, congratulations on solving the Linyanti murder case. Here in Mochudi, it is very big news! How did you go about it?
Kubu: It’s important to realise that police work is team work. We have an excellent team at the CID. My boss – Director Jacob Mabaku – is a brilliant leader. (Laughs again) Well he might be listening to this interview! We worked hard on it together – the CID, pathology, and forensics. As I’m sure you know, most cases are solved through boring hard work and patient sifting of clues. Nothing escaped us. Eventually all the pieces fell into place.
Interviewer: You grew up right here in Mochudi. How did you become one of Botswana’s ace detectives?
Kubu: I was very lucky. My parents are wonderful people and made many sacrifices for me to go to school. Then I managed to get a scholarship to Maru-a-Pula school. That’s where I learned – among many other things – to love music, singing and, eventually, opera. My luck held, and when I joined the police they sent me to the University of Botswana. One of my courses was English, and my lecturer was a wine fundi who started a wine club. I already liked food – all sorts of food – and found that wine enhances food and the other way around. That didn’t help my weight a lot!
After I graduated I went straight into the CID. Was never on the beat. I’ve been very lucky, as I told you.
Interviewer: Some people make their own luck, Kubu. But what attracted you to the career of a detective in the first place?
Kubu: It goes back to when I was quite young. I had a good friend from school in Mochudi – a bushman boy whose name is Khumanego. One day he took me into the desert, drew a rough circle with a stick, and asked me what I could see. “Sand, stones, and some dry grass,” I replied. He pressed me, and I looked harder but saw nothing more. He said I was blind, and showed me. In that small circle thrived a teeming world – ants, plants that looked like stones, beetles, and even a fascinating trapdoor spider. I love those desert plants cunningly disguised as rocks; I have some in my garden in Gaborone now. After that I vowed that I’d never be blind again.
Also I’ve always loved jigsaw puzzles. My father used to buy them and worked on them with me. We still do one together occasionally. Solving crimes is about fitting pieces together. Not necessary physical pieces, but they have to fit together.
Interviewer: What was it like moving from a small town to the big city?
Kubu: I miss the casual friendships and relaxed way we lived. Gaborone is much busier. All the minibus taxis driving all over the road! But I visited Johannesburg in South Africa once and that makes Gaborone look like a village, believe it or not. I wouldn’t want to live there! But I met my wonderful wife Joy in Gaborone. She’ll be listening, too! We have a nice small house and garden and a fox terrier called Ilia. I’m happy in the big city now. But we still spend most Sundays here in Mochudi with my parents. In the traditional family way.
Interviewer: What has been your most difficult case?
Kubu: Well, they all have hard parts. I think the hardest case was when a corpse was found in the desert, half eaten by wild animals, and deliberately mutilated to be unidentifiable. The case was choked by politics, and powerful people high up. And one of the country’s biggest companies was involved. And the stakes kept escalating with one vicious killing after the next. But that’s another story.
Interviewer: Yes, indeed. We’ve run out of time now, but we must have you back on another occasion! I’m sure our listeners have found this fascinating and would like to know more. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon, Detective Kubu.
Kubu: My pleasure! By the way I missed lunch – well, it was curtailed. Is there a good place to eat somewhere near here?