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Alcohol Smuggling Overwhelm Border Police

PINI BOTHOKO
Alcohol Smuggling Overwhelm Border Police
Following the extension to the ban on the sale of liquor to February 28, police now believe there is a syndicate of cross-border alcohol smugglers.

Pitsane Molopo Police suspect there may be a thriving black market for liquor that is smuggled into Botswana from South Africa.

Station commander for the area, superintendent Thusego Kenyafetse told The Monitor that in February alone they recorded four cases of alcohol that was smuggled into the country from the neighbouring country.

“We suspect that there is a syndicate of alcohol smugglers amongst Batswana and South Africans,” Kenyafetse said. “Amongst the four cases, some of the perpetrators were caught red-handed loading alcohol bottles and Black Label quarts into the car that was proceeding to Gaborone and neighbouring villages.”

He said their station alongside Ramatlabama and Goodhope they are unable to keep up with the rising alcohol and drug smuggling incidents from South Africa.

Kenyafetse said recently Ramatlabama police station reported a successful dagga bust. He stated that the demand for alcohol in Gaborone and surrounding areas is the one that fuels the cross-border alcohol smuggling activities.  He revealed that in all of the four cases the destination for the perpetrators was Gaborone, Lobatse and Molepolole.

“It is organised crime because it appears that alcohol smugglers from Gaborone arrange with those living in villages along the border and contact suppliers from the South African side to deliver bottles of 750ml and one litre of either Gordon’s, Tanqueray gin, Amarula, Hennessy and quarts. It also appears that some Batswana illegally cross into South

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Africa to smuggle alcohol into the country despite the rising numbers of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections,” he said. However, Kenyafetse said when they suspect culprits have illegally crossed into South Africa they usually take them to Ramatlabama for COVID-19 rapid testing and luckily all of them had tested negative.  He disclosed that the perpetrators are usually charged with an offence of disobeying curfew restriction times because they frequently travel at night. The police boss added that the perpetrators were charged fines of between P2,000 and P5,000 as an admission of guilt in all of the offences committed. He further cautioned Batswana to refrain from disobeying the alcohol ban stating that doing so they are in the process putting their lives at risk of contracting coronavirus.

For his part, Ramotswa Police Station commander, superintendent Keoagile Tau said the mushrooming of drinking holes in his policing area remains a concern.

He stated that the majority of alcohol imbibers have since resorted to traditional brews after being denied their poison of choice. He stated that traditional beer (Bojalwa jwa Setswana) prepared in two-litre bottles is threatening the lives of Batswana craving alcohol in his policing area.

He echoed Kenyafetse’s sentiments that the target market of the traditional beer appears to be Gaborone and neighbouring villages because they usually arrest people transporting the concoctions either in two-litre bottles or 20-litre containers.



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