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Why Botswana is becoming drugs haven

The legal frame work and judicial leniency are perhaps the major cause of rising incidences of drug dealing and possession in Botswana, Deputy Commanding Officer responsible for Narcotics, Fauna and Flora Investigations, Albert Morapedi has revealed.

Botswana, completely landlocked by four countries South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and slightly by Angola is faced with a saddling experience of having to deal with drugs coming in from all fronts.

“Our investigations indicate that drugs don’t come from Botswana, but from other countries,” he said.

The Botswana Police Service has seen a staggering rise in the number of hard drugs, which are considered more dangerous, compared to soft drugs. Hard drugs include cocaine, nicotine and cat among others which have been discovered by the police in Botswana.

Of all the drugs in general, marijuana remains the most common. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, between periods of January to July, there were 295, 339 and 394 cases of marijuana alone as compared to 5, 18, 27 cases of hard drugs in the same period respectively.

The largest consumers of these drugs are youth, with those belonging to age groups of 18-39 being major participants in the business. According to Morapedi there are rare cases involving primary school kids and recently involving a 52 year old man.

While the rise in drugs cases are a cause for concern, Morapedi also highlighted that for the police, it is a good sign as it shows that they are now able to detect drugs better than they used to.

“Unlike in other crimes where we want the cases to go down, in drug cases we want the detection rate to go high to uproot the harm which they are causing especially to the young people,” he said.

From statistics, it is apparent that pupils at secondary schools are the major victims of drug dealing in Botswana which leads to compromised health, aggressive behaviour and poor performance in schools.

Legal frame work and repercussions

Unlike in other countries, drug dealing and possession in Botswana does not carry hefty penalties and worse of all, the judiciary appears to be lenient by letting suspects off the hook with paltry bail amounts.

According to the Drug and Related Substance Act of 1992, a person can only be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years for dealing or possession.

The Act further states that: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any written law, any Magistrate Grade I, Senior Magistrate or Principal Magistrate shall have special jurisdiction to impose any penalties provided in this Act for any contravention of the provisions of this Part, or any regulations made under this Act relating to this Part, or to exercise any of the powers provided therein in respect of such contraventions.”

Morapedi said this is a big challenge because the law does not act as deterrence. The Deputy Commanding Officer also contended that the law also gives drug dealers who are released on bail the opportunity to continue with the illegal dealing.

“Our aim is to make clean the country and destroy network of drug dealing syndicates,” he said. “Personally I believe drug dealing syndicates should not be released on bail, they should remain in custody so that the network is destroyed,” he said.

Judiciary leniency on drug dealers

However, Morapedi said that although releasing of suspects on bail is defeating the whole purpose of striving for drug free communities, the police will not be discouraged by that.

Morapedi stated that there are four cases in which serial offenders have been granted bail.

“Judges and Magistrates are independent and sometimes use their discretion in making rulings on whether to release the accused on bail or not, but sadly most of time they succeed in getting bail,” he said.

Morapedi quipped that the review of Drugs and Substance Abuse Act, which is underway, will address some of the concerns raised by the stakeholders.

Penalties for drug dealing and possession vary depending on the quantity the accused is found in possession or is dealing with. The penalties range from three years imprisonment to 15 years or P1000 to 15 000 in fines or a combination of both.

Where do the drugs come from?

Although Morapedi could not reveal to this publication the most common area for origination of drugs to Botswana, this publication’s investigations revealed that Swazi nationals as per recent court appearances lead the number of foreign offenders, mostly dealing jointly with locals.

Drug dealers have been able to penetrate the country, with some drugs passing through the country in destinations outside the country, including from South Africa to Zambia, and other neighbouring countries.

“Drug dealers are using all tactics to bring them to Botswana, including using un-gazetted areas to get them inside the country,” he said.

Recently the Police were able, in a rare case to arrest drug syndicates in possession of drugs weighing from 1kg -102 kg, something which Morapedi said was a breakthrough because they were arrested before distribution.

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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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