FRANCISTOWN: Public transport operators might be amongst those who are playing a leading role in the distribution of alcohol that is smuggled into the country from Zimbabwe.
This is according to Francistown Central Police Station commander, superintendent Lebalang Maniki. Maniki shared his observation with The Monitor on Friday.
Maniki’s position came just after police at his station arrested a driver and conductor of a bus destined for Maun with alcohol that is suspected to have been smuggled into the country.
The arrest was made at the bus rank on Friday morning following a tip-off.
The incident comes at a time when the police across the country are grappling with growing cases of people who smuggle alcohol into the country.
“The bus conductor and the driver are currently in police custody. The alcohol was destined for Maun.
The recent arrest is a clear indication that we must widen our surveillance. We now suspect that public transport operators might be the ones responsible for distributing (to other areas around Botswana) alcohol that is smuggled into the country.
They might be conniving with those who directly bring the alcohol into the country,” Maniki said.
Maniki said in total there were 60 (750 ml) bottles of a brandy labelled King Stallion. Each bottle has a street value of between P35 and P40 according to Maniki.
“Both the driver and the conductor are still reluctant to tell us where they sourced the alcohol. We suspect that it was going to be sold in Maun.
They are likely to be charged with an offence of failure to declare goods at a point of entry. The charges are likely to increase depending on the outcomes of our investigations.”
Maniki stated that the bus, which the two men were operating was not impounded.
“We felt that the vehicle was not directly linked to the alleged crime or formed part of any evidence.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday last week the police also arrested four people in Francistown in connection with alcohol that was allegedly smuggled into the country. This is according to Maniki.
The arrests were made in two separate incidents that happened at Monarch and Coloured locations.
Francistown is amongst areas that have recorded many cases of alcohol smuggling. A spike in smuggling of alcohol from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia has been attributed to the current alcohol ban that was imposed to counter the spread of the coronavirus.