The level of crimes such as burglary, house breaking and theft remains a concern at Mmopane. As a village that is fast turning into a place of luxurious houses and cars owned by wealthy residents who commute to and from Gaborone, Mmopane has become the target for criminals.
To that end, the Mmopane leadership with the help of the Botswana Police Service, has stepped up patrols and warn residents to be more aware of security following strings of burglary and house breaking incidents in the area.
Mmopane chief, Simon Manthe identified the thieves tormenting his community as the inhabitants of the area who amongst them are illegal immigrants who target people who reside in the area for their valuables.
“There is no peace in this village, people no longer enjoy the comfort of their homes. The village is fast developing, forming part of Mogoditshane and situated a stone’s throw from Gaborone. The village’s growth comes along with bad things like escalating crime incidents,” he told Mmegi.
Kgosi Manthe stated that the residents’ properties are stolen everyday, irrespective of whether it is at night or during the day.
Not even the comfort of their homes can keep them safe as the perpetrators continue to find a way of breaking into houses even in the presence owners.
He added the culprits are young boys in their 20s who are made up of locals and illegal immigrants, and the unemployed who depend on theft for survival.
Furthermore, Kgosi Manthe stated that people get attacked every morning and in the evening when they are on their way or returning from work as thieves get away with their hard earned money and valuables.
He said the criminals usually go around armed with knives, pairs of scissors amongst other weapons, which they use to threaten their victims.
“These criminals usually target women because they are the ones who report crimes in high numbers as compared to their male counterparts,” Manthe explained.
“The criminals spend most of their afternoons loitering around the village, studying people’s movements and looking for the target later at night to steal from.”
He stated that usually whilst in their sleep, inhabitants are woken up by suspicious movements in their houses not knowing how the thieves got their way. Manthe said the area is over populated with people who relocate to Mmopane daily as they target cheaper accommodation.
Manthe said he has realised that crime incidents are fuelled by the absence of streetlights in the area. He stated the village is dark at night as a result of lack of streetlights, something that appears to be working as an advantage for the criminals.
Manthe further stated that they are fighting a losing battle as the area is also faced with mushrooming of illegal businesses operated by illegal immigrants.
“We are being serviced by Sir Seretse Khama police station located a bit far from us as compared to Mogoditshane police station. We have in the past pleaded with the Defence Ministry to allow us to take services from the latter which is more visible on the ground as it services Mmopane Block 1. We need more police visibility and patrols because Mmopane is fast developing hence targeted by the criminals,” Manthe said.
When reached for comment, Sir Seretse Khama police station commander, Superintendent Mpho Sebako said burglary, house breaking and theft are common crimes in his policing area.
He added Mmopane has notable incidents of crime. Sebako said even though he did not have readily available statistics, house breaking incidents are much better as compared to escalating cases of burglary incidents where criminals broke into people’s homes at night.
“Inhabitants of Mmopane live in constant fear and no longer enjoy the comfort of their homes. Reports of burglary are a daily occurrence with three to four cases reported in a week. Whilst in their sleep inhabitants are awakened by suspicious movements in their houses not knowing how the thieves got their way into the house,” he said.
Sebako urged Mmopane residents to tighten their security and make sure that they lock their houses before going to bed in order to minimise the risk of losing their property. He said keeping valuables out of sight, setting up good visibility and illuminating the home were important first steps.
He further implored the residents to consider forming neighbourhood watch clusters citing that the groups could produce good results towards the reduction of crime incidents. He however vowed that the police will not despair, but will intensify their patrols to curb the spike in criminal activities in the area.