Monday, September 28, 2020

Botswana battling a wave of border jumpers as Covid 19 spikes

A wave of Illegal immigrants entering Botswana through ungazetted points has become a big Covid-19 threat multiplier in Francistown, it has emerged.

Giving a District Structure Covid-19 Report during a special full council meeting recently City Clerk Lopang Pule revealed that, “law enforcement officers have informed us that whenever they patrol on helicopters, they see these illegal immigrants crossing in and out of the country along the Botswana/ Zimbabwe border. This is worrisome because citizens take part in these criminal activities.”

The recent rate of infections has sent a shockwave across the country. For the past two weeks, the country recorded over 160 new cases with most of the cases emanating from schools in the Greater Gaborone Zone. The infections are believed to be a result of local transmissions.

He emphasized that crimes such as illegal border jumping, working in Botswana without a permit, aiding and abetting non- citizens are among the most reported in various police stations in Francistown and surrounding areas.

Updating the councilors on issuance of permits during the social distancing period, Pule said 30 155 permits have since been issued. He said 1557 of these permits were issued for inter-zonal movements. He further explained that the overall target number of households that were to be given food relief parcels in Francistown was 28 432.

“At the moment a total of 25 054 households have been assessed as at 5 June 2020 and this figure reflects 88 percent of the overall households. 17 981 households were identified as distressed and were provided with food relief packages at a cost of P22 163 355.15,” he said.

He said as part of their local empowerment initiative, the following measures were adopted; procurement of food stuff from citizen owned general dealers, local wholesalers, hiring of local unemployed social workers and engagement of local mini-truck owners to augment district fleet. He also added that agricultural produce was procured from local farmers guided by the District Agricultural office and donations were also received from various organizations.

“We also experienced challenges on food distributions. There were dishonest members of the public who doubled in dipping and splitting of families but this was addressed vigorously by interrogating beneficiaries. There was also shortage of food items from wholesalers and overpricing by traders,” he added.

Touching on the health sector, the City Clerk said the district has one isolation centre in Ntshe clinic. He revealed that the centre admitted 14 cases in total. He explained that seven positive cases were all from other districts adding that five have been repatriated back to their countries. He said two are still at the centre. He however said all the illegal non-citizen are upon being arrested, tested, wait for results and if they are negative, they are required to wear masks and repatriated back to their countries of origin. On the Corvid-19 health regulations compliance he said 3 456 facilities were visited to date and their compliance rate was 82.5 percent (2 850/ 3 456)

“Common non-compliance issues were lack of infra-red thermometers, substandard sanitizers and unavailability of registers. Monitoring is done jointly by security personnel, city of Francistown council and the Greater Francistown District Health Management Team,” Pule explained.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.