Police waste precious time on certifying of documents

03 Feb 2019

By Richard Moleofe

Walk into Gaborone Central Police Station and experience the chaos right at the reception area. Scores of men and women line up at this office to either certify one or two documents or for some swearing in for this or that reason.

I have gone through this experience in the week as I became one of their customers. My reason for being there was for the purpose of getting an affidavit as proof of residence.

Apparently it's a new law from the insurance regulator to get every customer to do what is now known as Know Your Customer (KYC) exercise before you can get any sort of help.

This exercise is meant to combat all forms of money laundering. It still defeats my mind how one can be laundering money using an insurance policy.

Most of the customers lined up since morning, were coming to do their claims or either creating new accounts.

An insurance policy under most and normal circumstances would not do frequent transactions and most claimants would only be earning a few thousands of pula. We still need clarity on this matter.

The regulator, whoever they may be, never thought through this process as it is giving the police such a headache in dealing with the matter. Because the regulation is still new, it is creating chaos at CPS as it is the nearest police station from the Main Mall.

The issue here is this; the self-induced chaos are taking valuable time from the hands of our police. Police institutions are primarily created to deal with crime. But in instances where crime statistics are ballooning, it is completely absurd to see ourselves creating more work for the already thinly

spread police force.

While I was serving as an officer at BDF some years ago, I had a privilege of working with the police in crime busting. So I can give first hand testimony on the difficulties that these men and women experience on a daily basis.

The weekly Police Report would land at my desk while at duty that week. A police report is like a horror movie script. Any crime of your imagination would be listed in the document. This is a very tough job but unfortunately most young entrants come to discover that reality when they are already enlisted.

Government needs to take away this side job of certifying documents from the police. There are so many avenues to follow. Every institution has a lawyer nowadays. It is this office that is supposed to be doing this dirty job.

Beside the legal brains in the top offices of the private companies, further redress on the accruing backlog of customers requiring to depose affidavits needs to find a solution from those businesses. The private companies must employ para-legal graduates to help deal with this growing problem.

One needs to be a commissioner of oaths to get to do this kind of job.

Government is the only authority when it comes to appointing commissioners of oath. And there are so many retired police officers who could be engaged on a contract  basis to play this role in our police stations.

South Africa is one country that has put retired police officers into good use. One of the ways they participate in matters that help relief the active police officers is helping with traffic.

Every city around the world experiences traffic bottlenecks every day at rush hour. In South Africa, it is the retired officers that are found in major intersections to help alleviate traffic. Around schools, they assist in getting kids across the busy roads.

Taking a peep into the Commissioner of Oaths Act, there is a long list of officers who are designated as commissioners of oath. In am certain many of these officers don't even know that they are what they are.

With Botswana Police, it begins with the rank of sergeant. With BDF, every officer from the rank of second lieutenant is a commissioned officer.

However, BDF has made restrictions of their own and the oathing starts with the rank of major. Someone felt that the new entrants at the rank of second lieutenant were too new to understand the sensitivity of the responsibility.

 

Since every ministry and government department has a commissioner of oaths, we should never be distracting our police with limited human resource from focusing on their primary role.

Because most civil servants don't read, the office of the Attorney General must arise and make the appointed officers know what their roles are in the oathing exercise.

In fact the police are conflicted in doing this job because if there is any wrong doing, they are the ones to investigate the matter. So, all the certification of documents should be happening in the different government ministries instead of our police stations.

For commercial institutions like banks and insurance companies, they should be using private law firms to help with this work. In fact if you walk into any one of these legal firms to certify a document, they always do it for a fee. A blanket agreement could be made between the law firm and the private

business requiring the services of a commissioner of oaths.

Of course the businesses would pass on the bill to the customer. But there are so many business clients out there who are willing to pay a fee for such services. I don't even think people are aware that every lawyer is a commissioner of oaths.

The work around commissioning oaths has been watered down. The police that do the work never have a break because the demand has gone up so much. The growing demand for these services arises from the growing population and in particular a growing unemployed demography who constantly have to send their applications to businesses.

The government needs to rethink the whole thing as this is a growing industry. There will always be people wanting to certify their documents while others would be looking for affidavit services.

*Richard Moleofe is a security analyst