A densely populated Extension 27 location in Gaborone that has been a haven for criminals for years is still keeping the police on its toes. Mmegi Staff Writer, PINI BOTHOKO observes that the haven continues to experience an upsurge in criminal activities that has left residents of Gaborone in constant fear for their lives.
This location is the first stop for the majority of people who relocate from far-flung villages for greener pastures in Gaborone because of its cheaper or affordable accommodation.
The police have cited the location as a hot spot for criminals with theft incidents especially pick pocketing occurring more often, thus keeping the police service on its toes. The exodus to Extension 27 location has resulted in thugs moving in as well and claiming their spot.The criminals target people, especially women in the evening after getting off from combis and snatch handbags, money, cell phones, laptops and other valuables. Of recent they introduced a new system in which they attack and snatch people’s belongings immediately when boarding off public transports.
This location is not a safe place for its inhabitants who are no longer free to walk within the street either during the day or at night. Usually, the perpetrators are young men in their 20s, or younger, who are unemployed and depending on thefts for survival. They usually go around carrying weapons such as knives, pair of scissors. Those from Extension 27 are, or have been followed there by their fellow hoods from as far as Mogoditshane, Old Naledi and Extension 16 to roam the streets, night and day, in order to deprive residents of their valuables. People’s goods are stolen everyday whether day or night and not even the comfort of their homes can keep them safe as the perpetrators also find a way of breaking into houses even in residents’ presence. Confirming crime is on the increase in his policing area with Extension 27 remaining one of the hot spots, Broadhurst Police Station commander, Obusitswe Lokae said people’s lives are in danger as they are being harassed by the thieves day and night.
Lokae also said they are working to mitigate the escalating crime by working closely with clusters, hence engaging residents. He stated to have been encouraging residents to form neighbourhood watch teams in which they could help each other to curb crime.
Lokae further stated that if residents cooperated, even the thieves could realise and stay away from their neighbourhood. “We have observed that some people are neighbours, but never say a word to each other hence could not spot a stranger amongst themselves. The thieves usually pretend to be walking within the streets whilst targeting vulnerable people. Despite the police on patrols, the criminals always find their way,” Lokae said. He revealed to have been sharing information and crime prevention tips including joint patrols in an effort to reduce crime, but shockingly crime keep on increasing despite these efforts.
“The hot spot are Taung hiking bus stop and Total filling station bus stop along A1 road. The criminals snatch people’s handbags or smash people’s cars, cross the road running into the streets of the densely populated area,” Lokae said. Sharing the same sentiments, Boikhutso Ward Development Committee (WDC)’s secretary general, Itumeleng Gabatshabe conceded that crime remains a challenge in their area. She said that even though some of the criminals are residents of Extension 27 location majority of them come from other areas, snatch people’s valuables and run past through this location. “Most of our yards are not fenced hence making it easy for criminals to snatch people’s valuables and trespass. We have since established neighborhood watch teams to help curb the scourge,” she said.
Boikhutso WDC has recently acquired a potter cabin which they intend to put in one of the hot spots to be used as a makeshift office for police officers while on duty. She said that potter cabin was not yet in use as they await police officers to be officially stationed. For his part the area councilor, Stanley Solly echoed Gabatshabe’s observation that crime remains a challenge in his area but said efforts are in place to curb the scourge.
“They have observed that majority of our yards are not fenced hence easy to snatch people valuables and pass over. I have recently engaged former soccer stars in the area, Pontsho Moloi and his brother Dirang Moloi who are role models to their peers in Extension 27 to sensitise residents and students about the dangers of crime during my ward meetings,” he said.
Solly further stated to have been pleading with shebeen operators to help fight the scourge because it has been established that some of the criminals have the habit of spending their times at those drinking spots disguising as customers. Furthermore, Solly said residents have recently written a letter to Gaborone City Council (GCC) pleading with council to allow them to close passages between their yards which criminals currently pass through or hide in when searching people’s handbags. “I have recently recovered four handbags with people’s national identity cards, drivers’ licences and other valuable documents dumped in the bush when clearing the bush around Extension 27.
I have also pleaded with residents to keep their surroundings clean so that the thieves could not find bushy areas to dump people’s handbags after searching and taking valuables inside,” he said.
He has encouraged residents through their neighborhood watch teams to contribute and engage private security companies to provide security to their homes especially at night.