“Phokoje ga a ke a latlha mosesele” is a Setswana saying which loosely means it is not easy to do away with one’s habits.
The saying is lived by many Batswana who just love their alcoholic beverages as they have since resorted to traditional brews after being denied their poison of choice.
The police have expressed concern over the illegal sale of alcohol with home brewed beers being the most popular source of intoxication during lockdown that eased recently.
Reports from Central District suggest Setopoti, Khadi and Mnanti are at the top of the list of traditional brews threatening the lives of Batswana craving alcohol in the area.
The district administration officer, Paul Oketsang said the thirst for alcohol following the country’s nationwide ban on sales has pushed imbibers to turn to home brew fermenting to get around the prohibition.
Oketsang told The Monitor they have observed a growing trend in the migration of booze lovers driving to the cattle posts and lands (masimo) to enjoy home brewed alcohol.
“After discovering the police’s visibility on the ground (some) amongst the villages’ drinkers decided to drive out to imbibe home brewed beers at the cattle posts and lands,” Oketsang said.
“The idea to brew came because there is no alcohol. Luckily through tip offs we managed to arrest and charge shebeen operators and drinkers after we caught them red-handed drinking. In the process we also seized home brewed beers as evidence.”
He said in the ongoing operation 57 cases were recorded in May in his policing area that covers Serowe, Palapye, Maunatlala, Lerala and Serule. Oketsang said during a period of seven days, from May 6 to 12, 2020, they recorded 25 cases and had a slight decrease by 19 cases from May 13 and 19.
“From May 20 to 27, we recorded 13 cases in which shebeen operators and drinkers were charged fines between P1,000 and P5,000 as admission of guilt. The popular traditional beers are setopoti, khadi and mnanti,” he said.
He added that the fact that the offenders admit to the offence during the arrests shows that people are aware of the regulations. Oketsang said the demand for alcohol is high and this has fuelled the mushrooming of shebeens.
“During the arrests we caught drinkers red-handed not practising social distancing. The health ministry issued and encouraged members of the public to adhere to social distancing, limit movement in order to contain or prevent the spread of the virus. (It will be ideal) If people could change their actions for a while and adapt to social distancing measures to save lives. Another thing at shebeens, they do not keep records that could be helpful during contact tracing,” he said.
He stated that during lockdown the police battled to curb the illegal sale of alcohol, something that still remains a challenge after lockdown.
He stated that the operation was still ongoing to ensure that the public adheres to regulations giving the example of the compulsory use of masks, social distancing and the use of zonal permits.