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Botswana Police’s drug purge: 75 arrests in 3 weeks

Botswana Police Service (BPS) has in the past three weeks engaged in possibly the largest drug operation in the history of Botswana, consequently making approximately 75 drug related busts in greater Gaborone areas alone.  

Weekend Post has established that the police have dispatched an array of resources in order to rescue the drug situation in the country and take to book those arrested as the campaign spreads. There are indications that the drugs (suppliers) come to the country through South African borders from Swaziland and sometimes Mozambique. Since the elevation of the campaign, the police have arrested people from drug related offenses which also include robberies and break-ins and in the arrests made, suspects were mostly found in possession of stolen goods or the drugs.

In terms of the drugs, the most dominant drugs as registered by BPS are dagga (marijuana), and although before last year dagga was followed by cocaine, as of now it has been overtaken by Methcathinone or CAT (now second most) in the country. Speaking exclusively with this publication this week, Botswana Police Public Relations Officer Senior Superintendent Dipheko Motube said, “It has been 3 weeks now in the drugs campaign and already we have arrested 75 and counting. The suspects were questioned by the police, most of who were nailed while in possession of the drugs.”

According to Motube, of the 75 suspects arrested only 25 have already been charged for 14 cases in which 12 were dagga (marijuana) related while 2 were cocaine cases. In the said cases: “there were 19 males and 6 females involved which were aged between 24 and 58 years and all were caught in Greater Gaborone area.” The monetary value and weight of the seized drugs could not be established at the time of going to press; Motube said they were yet to ascertain it. However in one incident, as part of the intensified campaign, a truck crossing into Botswana with dagga estimated to cost more than one million pula in monetary value was seized.

In addition Motube said that 4 people, aged between 24 and 29, were also separately arrested in Gaborone North at the close of this week in connection with ‘improvised drugs’. The quartet was in possession of improvised drugs which were in the form of a concoction of fanta grape (fizzy beverage) and cough syrup. Some of them include mixing coke and pills. According to the police spokesperson, the drugs (particularly cough syrup) were not prescribed for those in possession from a medical practitioner. The drugs, he continued to highlight, are also on the rise and are a concern to the Police Service. He said that they are rampant amongst students as they are easily accessible and affordable.

What prompted the police drug raids?

The BPS believes that drugs are the root cause of all societal ills and crime activity currently bedevilling the country. As the BPS spokesperson put it, the drug situation in Botswana is a threat to peace and tranquillity and impacts the society negatively, both socially and economically. Motube asserted with confidence: “all problems bedevilling our society, the major root cause is drug abuse. I say this because the drugs are expensive and more addictive than alcohol.” “So, people get involved in criminal activities in order to fund their next drugs fix.”

Motube narrated that the drug users grow into hardcore criminals and start doing house breakings, carry out street robberies, house invasions and become very dangerous, murdering people.  “All the offenses that touch on human behaviour, integrity and rights, we blame it on abuse of drugs, that is; Domestic and Gender Violence, all these issues emanate from drinking spots. You will find out that those we arrest having committed these issues would later concede to having used drugs or be found in possession of them (drugs).”

Motube asserted that it is important for the drugs situation to be addressed head on. “Nowadays we see even students carrying drugs at schools and in the event some selling them. Such students hide drugs in their school uniform ‘ties’ as we found out during our searching strategy. This kills our education system and the future of our children. We end up raising drug lords thinking they are innocent students.” Motube further pointed out that the police will continue to come up with new strategies to fight drug peddling in the country. “We had to adjust our policing programmes and structures to see what can work for the country. The campaign is running indefinite, we are not sure when it will stop,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, the recent campaign has been seen by many as targeting “small fish” particularly in the city’s “slum” areas who deal in dagga but avoiding elite residential areas where the big fish are possibly peddling high end drugs like cocaine. In response to this, Motube said their campaign does not have vocabulary for any drug dealer. “The campaign is on. It’s law enforcement. Our campaign does not have a vocabulary of small or big fish. Nobody is immune. It’s just a matter of time before we reach other areas. We will also come to Phakalane suburban area which is seen as a no go area. Even those who hide the drugs, they should be scared of us and our black dog is coming will sniff all those drugs in their hidden spots.”

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