The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs has said it has sacked 18 immigration officers for selling Botswana passports to foreign nationals.
The employees were dismissed after thorough investigations. The ministry's permanent secretary, Segakweng Tsiane has said that some foreign nationals were arrested when they were found in possession of the stolen Botswana documents. "When they were interrogated, the foreigners revealed that they bought the documents from certain people in the ministry. We are still investigating these cases and I can assure you we will leave no stone unturned," she said. She added that they are following due process to address the issue.
The ministry spokesperson, Lebogang Bok said that some of the officers were bribed to issue passports, residence permits and to aid illegal immigrants to enter or work in the country. Some were dismissed for failure to comply with financial instructions and procedures or accepting bribes to issue passports or extend period of stay.
Bok said that although this is the highest number of officers involved in corruption at the ministry, it is not the first time that the immigration department has been hit by graft.
She said that in 2008, there were two cases of fraudulent issuance of passports
A few weeks ago, Tsiane revealed that a sizeable number of officers in the ministry are corrupt.
There have been reports that criminals around the world are using illegally acquired Botswana passports. To deal with the situation, the ministry devised stringent conditions to guard against the theft of the document. The fee for the replacement of a lost passport has been hiked from P30 to P1,000. This has left some Batswana feeling that they are being made to pay for the security lapses of the ministry. "We want people to take responsibility and take proper care of their passports. It doesn't mean that you would just be made to pay the P1,000 fee when you want to replace your passport. If you have good reasons for losing your passport, say your passport was burnt in a fire, and there is supporting evidence, you will not be charged the P1,000 fee," Tsiane said.