While the nation basks in the glory of reduced criminal activities as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, Botswana Police are being kept busy by the growing number of illegal alcohol brewing and selling cases at households across the country.
Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube disclosed this week that the number of illegal home brewing cases has increased dramatically.
Motube says they have recorded almost 1000 cases of home-brewing since the commencement of the initial 28 day lockdown that ended on Thursday.
The rise in home brewed alcohol has been largely attributed to the government’s ban on alcohol sales which has seen people resorting to alternative means. The black market prices for available alcohol have only served to worsen the situation with prices going as high as four times the retail price.
Of at least 918 cases from across the four Botswana Police Service divisions, Serowe and surrounding areas (North Central) have recorded the highest cases at least 441 with the South division recording over 300 cases of illegal home brewing.
Social media was recently abuzz when a police officer inadvertently shared a home brewing recipe on national television following an arrest.
The recipe involves ingredients that are readily available on the shelves at various supermarkets across the country. Fruits are the main ingredient of the home brews, whose recipes are being widely shared on social media. They include apples, plums, berries, pomegranates, pumpkins, kiwis, grapes etc.
Motube says the most common especially in the Tswapong, Mahalapye, and Palapye areas is the watermelon home brew locally known as ‘setopoti’.
It is made from the flesh of watermelons with seeds intact, which are then fermented using moomelo (malt) that metabolizes the sugar in the watermelon into alcohol. Some of the many variations of fermenting include the use of bicarbonate soda, baker’s yeast and any other alcoholic beverage.
The process of fermenting the watermelon brew is shorter than that of sorghum beer. While sorghum beer takes between three and four days Setopoti takes a day or two after which the fermented mixture is filtered, normally using a sack.
Setopoti is then kept fresh longer by adding more watermelon juice to it. As we reported recently, there is also alcohol powder called Power that is usually available in some supermarkets.
While many still believe it is only the selling of home brew that is illegal, Motube says brewing for own consumption is also against the law.
“If we search your premises and find home brewed alcohol, even for your own consumption, we take necessary action.”
The Assistant Commissioner also says they have arrested close to 7000 people for ‘unlawful movement’ across the country. Another 83 people have been arrested for ‘unlawful gathering’, contravening the social distancing regulations.
Motube says there has been a significant drop in criminal activities such as assaults, housebreaking, theft, and rape over the lockdown period.