In Zimbabwe seven suspects accused of trafficking women from Zimbabwe to Kuwait for slavery purposes, under the guise of securing employment for them as maids in the Arab country, were recently granted $300 bail each pending trial by a Harare magistrate.
Botswana has not escaped the human trafficking exploits of greedy masterminds. The Police in Botswana continue to make arrests of individuals involved in human trafficking.
This publication has learnt the Zimbabwe Kuwait trafficking ring has ties in Botswana and South Africa.
Investigations have revealed that upon arrival in Kuwait, the victims were placed under “house arrest” and were not paid salaries but the money was wired to the traffickers in Zimbabwe as payment. The main agent based in Zimbabwe will eventually pay his contacts in Botswana and South Africa.
Their Arabian accomplices would at times demand ransom from the victim’s families in order for them to release the women, mainly young ladies. The agents reportedly lied to the victims that they would be afforded an opportunity to further their education by their new “employers” in the oil-rich country.
In Zimbabwe the gang is charged with contravening sections of the Trafficking Persons Act (Recruits, transfers, harbours or receives another person that he or she knows or suspects is being or is likely to be trafficked or attempts, assists or conspires with others for the commission of the crime of trafficking). In Botswana investigations are yet to reveal or expose the real agents who worked with the Zimbabwean gang. But isolated cases of human trafficking continue to be recorded by the police.
Botswana police have in the past intercepted human trafficking deals. Recently a mini bus transporting young girls to suspected trafficking hotspots was nabbed in Francistown.
Police fear that young ladies are at risk because they are promised high paying jobs in these Arabic countries only to be forced into sex slavery and domestic work under harsh conditions.
TWO SOUTH AFRICANS ACCUSED OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Meanwhile two South Africans slapped with charges of human trafficking appeared before Village magistrate Mompati Taolo this week Wednesday seeking bail. An attorney representing one of the accused demanded that the charges against his client be dropped because the state has no case against her.
Attorney Friday Dutch Leburu representing second accused, Sowetan Antoinette Nthoba, told the court that the female accused never had the intention to come into Botswana territory and had been lured and entrapped by the Botswana police.
Leburu said that Nthoba was initially sent to the South African Kopfontein/Tlokweng border post to collect two mature Ethiopian individuals, who on their own initiative had boarded an Ethiopian Airways flight to Botswana en route to South Africa as their final destination.
He continued that when Nthoba arrived at the border at nightfall she received a call from an individual in Botswana who turned out to be an undercover Investigating Officer (IO) in the sting operation. Leburu then said the Investigating Officer agreed with Nthoba to find accommodation for the Ethiopian pair and Nthoba agreed to repay the P800 accommodation fee the next morning.
He says that the next morning the IO again contacted Nthoba who did not know that she was being duped by Botswana Police into setting foot on Botswana territory. Leburu continued to say that when Nthoba finally met with the IO she paid him 1500 in South African Rands instead of the initially agreed P800 for accommodating the Ethiopians because she did not have cash in the Pula currency.
Leburu says that to endorse his argument that the charges against Nthoba must fall, Nthoba had not even met or spoken to the Ethiopian individuals she had come to collect.
The Attorney observed that charges against Nthoba do not stick as they do not meet the three elements constituting human trafficking.
He said that the Police charge sheet does not state whether Nthoba recruited, transported nor harboured the allegedly trafficked Ethiopians.
He also further said the sub-elements of the use of threats; abuse of power and abuse of vulnerability combined with the element of purpose which encompasses elements of general exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced labour and slavery are not in any way tied to Nthoba.
Leburu also said that since Nthoba never had the intention to come into Botswana she should be given free bail as she has children and a family in South Africa and that she has already suffered pre-trial prejudice as she has spent close to two weeks in prison.
Leburu also bordered on accusing the Directorate on Public Prosecutions (DPP) of trying to salvage public confidence and using the accused South Africans as ‘fall guys’ in trialing a rare case of human trafficking insinuating that, “it has been lousy at DPP in the past few months.”
The first accused 49 year old Hanamantsi Lekena who was representing himself requested bail and he promised not to avoid court as Botswana and South Africa have an existing extradition treaty.
Lekena denounced any connection to human trafficking saying he was arrested at a bar talking on his mobile phone. Lekena also narrated his extenuating circumstances before the court saying he supports his family including seven nephews and nieces who will suffer if his incarceration continues and that his father and mother passed on in 1979 and 2014 respectively.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.