In recent weeks, the Botswana Police Service and other law enforcement agencies have kicked up a gear in their efforts to purge the country of criminal elements.
Public trust in law enforcement has been reinvigorated by high profile arrests, the busting of criminal syndicates as well as a greater level of transparency by the Police Service in particular.
Last month, 27 smash and grab suspects were nabbed following a torrential period for Gaborone motorists, who were subjected to attacks at intersections, in traffic, in their driveways and at other places by increasingly emboldened thugs.
Yesterday, the police scored another masterstroke, descending on suspected drug traffickers and their dens in Gaborone.
The nation watched with pride as Btv showed a well coordinated operation that resulted in the seizure of various types of drugs and the arrest of numerous suspects.
Drug trafficking is a particularly insidious crime, often fuelling other crimes such as assaults, murder and theft, while also corrupting vulnerable youth and even children.
Recently we reported on investigations by authorities in Francistown who found that some school gate vendors had taken to peddling drugs such as marijuana to senior secondary students, a most egregious betrayal of future generations.
In Gaborone, the extent of drug trafficking and addiction has been difficult to officially ascertain, although NGOs involved in the matter have sounded frequent warnings that the vice was reaching crisis levels. Former addicts as well have often revealed that both the trafficking and addiction are widespread and controlled by kingpins who have allegedly somehow bought immunity from law enforcement.
These allegations have been lent credence by the fact that arrests for drug offences in Gaborone have been sporadic and generally involved small amounts peddled by bit players in the greater scheme of things.
It is clear that there are well-established routes and points for the influx of drugs into Gaborone and their distribution down to street level, but law enforcement efforts have generally focused on those peddlers caught with a few grammes hidden in a matchbox.
We hope yesterday’s busts in certain neighbourhoods marks the beginning of strikes higher up the totem pole of drug trafficking in Gaborone and indeed Botswana as a whole.
Law enforcement activity should focus on the entry points for drugs and the kingpins involved in this activity at the supply end of the scale, over and above targeting the street level dealers and consumers.
In this regard, we also call upon Batswana to not only cooperate with law enforcement, but also volunteer information that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of those fuelling this malevolent activity.
In as much as the police do not operate in a vacuum, the community too is a collective of mutual and overlapping interests, guided by shared ambitions.
“Civic education and civic responsibility should be taught in elementary school.”
- Donna Brazile