SELEBI-PHIKWE: Government is currently raising two babies who have been trafficked into the country and it has proven difficult to trace their origins because of the complex nature of the vice.
The babies who are still very young, according to the principal prosecutions counsel Keletso Mfosi, have been taken away from their “suspects” mothers as the DNA has proven that they are not their biological babies.
This information was shared at a workshop on Trafficking in Person for North East District Council and Law Enforcement Officers last week in Selebi-Phikwe.
It was revealed that the suspected mothers are Christians believed to have been prayed for on the screen and told that they have spiritually fallen pregnant.
After some months, the mothers who are Batswana travelled to unspecified countries and brought the babies with them.
How the babies travelled without documents remains a mystery and prosecution has to rely on the information they can retrieve from the mothers who are not willing to assist.
She said since the babies are currently stateless, they would at some point have to be registered as Batswana if efforts to trace their origins prove futile.
The cases are already before the High Court and are yet to be heard. Concerned neighbours, who discovered that the women who never conceived already have babies, alerted the authorities. Mfosi said it is possible the babies may have been stolen from their biological mothers or sold out by the mothers. She did not rule out the possibility of exchange programmes where other babies may be trafficked from Botswana to other countries. “That is the reason why we need all countries in the region to have protocols on human trafficking.”
She said Botswana did not have the smuggling law until June this year hence perpetrators were only charged P1, 000 for aiding and abetting.
“Everyone must police human trafficking because it is a very organised and complex crime that has targets and attracts a lot of money. Our population is so small we cannot afford to have
Officer Commanding at the National Central Bureau of Interpol, Kuda Seretse said 1,277 cases of human trafficking were reported within the SADC region during 2016/2017 and of these, there were 369 prosecutions, with only 101 cases resulting in convictions. He expressed concern at the low conviction rate.
He added that human trafficking movements are in very complex patterns hence limits possibilities of mapping the patterns. Seretse said trafficking in persons is a billion dollar business and second after drug trafficking and expressed concern that no tax is paid to government after such transactions.
“Botswana is a transit route. We have already intercepted a number of people and recently repatriated some victims back to their countries,” he said.
Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kgotla Autlwetse said Botswana is currently supporting 28 victims of human trafficking from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“We are also working with them to ensure successful prosecution of their traffickers and at regional level SADC member states are working closely to enhance cooperation, information sharing and experiences on how best the crime can be arrested,” he said.
Autlwetse said Botswana is committed to the promotion of global issues including respect for human rights, good governance, rule of law and maintenance of international peace and security, which if fully attained would keep human trafficking at bay.
The Minister however expressed concern that global village breeds criminals who continue to take advantage of technological advancements and seek out opportunities to operationalise their criminal agenda.
Autlwetse added that Botswana continues to monitor and respond to the ever-evolving nature of transnational organised crimes.
“We even included a section which criminalises smuggling of persons with a penalty ranging from P200, 000 to P500, 000 and a 15 years to a life in prison sentence,” he said.