The government has recommended the use of cloth to cover one’s face in public for protection against the coronavirus (COVID-19), but this could aid the unexpected.
While the effort is introduced in good measure to encourage health safety and protection, it could also be an aiding tool of vice and crime.
Criminals are likely to capitalise on this measure and the fact that now everyone can wear a mask in public could bolster their confidence to operate incognito.
There is a possibility of petty thieves disguising their identities in order to get away with crime.
Under normal circumstances while one is walking, especially at night in passages and dark alleys, coming across another wearing a face-mask would instinctively raise a red flag.
But now that the wearing of face clothes and masks is compulsory, more criminals than ever are likely to obscure their identities.
It is not exactly uncommon as armed robbers have been known to cover their distinct features with cloth in the commissioning of their various crimes and it is likely that they would take advantage of the new norm.
Announcing the use of face-masks in public as part of the first phase of the new lockdown regulations, Director of Health Services Dr Malaki Tshipayagae said everyone outside their home must wear a mask.
This is as part of the new measure to control the further spread of COVID-19 pandemic without specification.
“We want everyone to cover their mouths and noses in public by use of cloth masks. We encourage that people should make their own masks or
Reached for comment the police said crime generally has been down during the lockdown, but the situation is likely to change with the new lockdown regulations now easing on restriction of movement.
Botswana Police Service’s (BPS) public relations officer, senior Superintendent Near Bagali did not dismiss the possibility of thieves likely to take advantage of the use of face cloth masks as camouflage for crime.
“We do not have reports as yet of people who committed recent crimes wearing masks, but with the new regulation, identification is likely to be a challenge. Some people, especially criminals, might take advantage and cover themselves excessively,” Bagali said.
However as the police, Bagali said, they are going to communicate more on the use of face coverings with the public and their safety.
“Suspicion of character can be easily identified, but with everyone wearing a face covering it could pose a challenge.
The wearing of face masks is a law that needs to be followed and we will be on the lookout as the police to step in when there is suspicion of character,” Bagali said.
He stated that the police would soon engage with organisations that have been helping them fight crime on how they can sensitise the community on this new trend and how they can help the public from falling prey to criminals.