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Imbibers Gather Still For Illegal Lodge Parties

CHAKALISA DUBE
Francistown Central Police station commander Lebalang Maniki PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: Some residents of the country’s second city continue to disregard coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols by booking lodging at venues such as guesthouses to stage parties.

This is according to Francistown Central Police Station commander, superintendent Lebalang Maniki. He shared his observation with The Monitor on Friday. As part of preventing a surge in COVID-19 cases, the government does not allow gatherings such as parties and workshops.

Maniki’s position came just after the recent arrest of 12 people (at his station) who had staged a party at a guesthouse in Area A location. He said two other similar incidents were later recorded at Ntshe and Phase five locations.

“In the past, we were concerned that liquor traders were the ones who breached COVID-19 protocols. The trend has now shifted. It appears as if consumers now buy alcohol and they book at facilities like guesthouses where they stage parties or gathering illegally to drink the said alcohol,” Maniki told The Monitor.

“We appeal to the guesthouse and lodge owners to avoid booking their facilities for parties because, for now, staging of such activities is illegal. Everyone is a key stakeholder in the fight against COVID-19.”

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Maniki added that it is not only guesthouses that stage parties. He explained that some residents of Francistown in locations such as Monarch also stage parties.

“Since the beginning of April, we registered 42 cases of illegal gathering. In most of these cases, people had gathered to drink alcohol or organised parties,” he said.

Maniki noted that hosts of those parties were fined money not less than P1,000 while those who attended were fined money not less than P500. Since the beginning of the year, the police have been battling to deal with an array of cases associated with a breach of COVID-19 protocols by alcohol drinkers and traders.

When the government introduced a ban on alcohol early this year (before it was lifted last month) following a surge in COVID-19 deaths, some people resorted to buying and selling alcohol illegally. Hundreds of such people were arrested and alcohol worth millions of pula was confiscated. The confiscated alcohol was mostly smuggled into the country from Zimbabwe.



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