FRANCISTOWN: Residents of Dukwi are claiming that some refugees based at the camp on the outskirts of their village are involved in prostitution hence tarnishing the name of the village.
The Dukwi refugee camp is home to many refugees across Africa who were driven by unfavourable political conditions among other reasons in their countries to seek refugee in Botswana.
The Kgosi at Dukwi Bohedile Twaelang confirmed that there are pockets of prostitutes from the camp who are still involved in the trade but is happy because the habit has subsided nowadays.
Twaelang said in the past some refugees even rented homes in the village to carry out transactional sex contrary to domestic laws and international conventions governing their status in foreign countries.
“We held meetings with the police, health officials, villagers and other stakeholders to address the problem. Even some locals were said to be involved in the habit especially where trucks usually park along the main road (A3),” Twaelang said adding that even though measures were put in place to control the problem, human beings will always find ways of beating the system.
Efforts to contact the Dukwi Refugee Camp Commandant and his deputy were futile as they were said to be attending meetings for the whole week in Francistown.
According to some residents, these refugees are selling one of their valuable assets: their bodies for cash in order to supplement the food and clothing rations they get from government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Highly placed sources at the camp and village told this publication that some villagers have long time been advocating for the camp to be closed while others welcomed the refugees because they buy sex from them from as little as P20. Said one source based at the camp: “Dukwi village becomes a beehive of activity at night. The female refugees normally leave the camp and frequent local entertainment centres mainly bars to drink alcohol while some engage in prostitution.”
The situation, the source said, is exacerbated by the fact that the refugees movement at camp is not restricted. “The refugees are free to leave the camp during the day and night as they please. Nobody monitors their movement. Even the entrance of the camp is not manned,” according to the source.
The source said as a result some female refugees are involved in love relationships with local men and vice versa.
“Even local men sometimes sleep at the camp with their girlfriends,” said the source. The situation, sources told Mmegi, has been in existence for a long time and has made some local ladies to develop a feeling of animosity towards refugees who they accuse of taking their lovers. Another source added:“The prostitution business is mostly pronounced along the Francistown-Maun road near some bars. Long haul truckers mainly from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) usually park near the bars at night.” The situation the sources say may lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.Dukwi councillor Thatayaone Kehetile said that he is not aware of the situation. “I do not have tangible evidence that our sisters from the camp are involved in prostitution. The police are better placed to tell you about the problem if ever it exists but there is no prostitution law in Botswana that they can use to charge perpetrators.
However I am against prostitution because of its many ills that need not be emphasised,” said Kehetile.The section leader at Dukwi Police Station Inspector Oteng Selalame said that he neither agrees nor denies that some refugees and villagers are involved in prostitution.He said that since there is no prostitution law in Botswana, they normally charge people with idling and being disorderly if they find them loitering around the bars and were trucks usually park along the A3 road after bars have closed.