A senior police officer, Near Bagali has dismissed as untrue, the talk that they have neglected their core mandate of protecting human life and property but instead harass people over COVID-19 related matters.
There has been an outcry from some members of the public alleging abuse by the police in relation to COVID-19 regulations. The public across social media platforms has been accusing the police of neglecting crime, yet appear more visible towards the fight against the spread of the corona virus.
Frustrated members of the public said their lives were at risk as criminals always found their way into homes and got away with hard earned money and valuables. The irate public said some people have in the process got injured and some nearly lost their lives in armed robberies.
For a while now; police station commanders have been complaining of teams of sophisticated thieves mostly targeting unsuspecting public especially women.
Police have been warning people to be cautious at all times especially when driving at night following a spike in pick- pocketing and smash and grab incidents.
The said criminals have been breaking into people’s cars especially by the traffic lights and on traffic during peak hours getting away with some valuables. Criminals have been attacking people in public transport late in the evenings and snatching women’s handbags and mobile phones. Last month, a running smash and grab thief died in ‘the line of duty’ after he was hit by a car when trying to cross Nelson Mandela road in Block 3, Gaborone.
Few weeks ago, three foreign business owners were attacked and injured by armed robbers on the same night on different occasions leaving one of them hospitalised after they stabbed him with a pick axe.
The victims were robbed large sums of money and electronic gadgets. Police had suspected that the said business community might have been attacked by the same gang who to date are still at large.
However, responding to the public’s accusations, the Botswana Police Service (BPS)’s deputy public relations
He revealed that the service has divided their manpower with some focusing on their core mandate and some deployed to enforce COVID-19 protocols.
“We have observed that some people no longer take COVID-19 seriously, they continue to disobey COVID-19 protocols and police’s enforcement on that part is usually viewed as harassment. We have been charging people on daily basis for disobeying the regulations. The fact that the offenders admit to the offence during the arrests shows that people are aware of the regulations,” he said. Despite that, Bagali conceded to have observed a spike in criminal activities as the police pleading with members of the public to be patient with them.
He said they might not be at everyone’s doorstep during attacks but police patrols have been ongoing as usual to ensure people’s safety at all times.
“Two Zimbabwean men, Castro Ncube (34) a resident of Tsolamosese location, Shylock Makoni (39) a resident of Gabane and a Motswana man, Kabo Matlhatsi (39) of White City in Gaborone were on Tuesday arraigned before the Village Magistrates Court in Gaborone for robbery which occurred on April 28 at Gaborone North,” he said .
Bagali said the trio were arrested on Sunday after attacking and robbing a 76-year-old man property worth over P1million in Gaborone North. He stated that the stolen property included a Mercedes Benz car, cash, jewellery and mobile phones.
“We might have not been there when they robbed this man but we made a breakthrough in a short period of time and have since recovered some of the stolen property. We are currently in hot pursuit of five others who are still at large in connection with the same offence,” Bagali said.