Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Botswana police smash Asian licence racket

At least one in every three heavy duty and extra heavy duty drivers on Botswana roads may be using counterfeit licenses forged by Chinese, Indian and Pakistani crime syndicates who have infiltrated the Department of Road Transport and Safety ÔÇô police investigations have revealed.

So far, about 200 local heavy duty and extra heavy duty drivers were arrested in the first week of a sting Operation mounted by the Botswana Police Service last week.

The Botswana Police Service also rounded up Chinese, Indian and Pakistanis suspected to be masterminding the racket.

The Director of Traffic Division at the Botswana Police Service, Senior Assistant Commissioner Paledi, confirmed to the Sunday Standard this week that 200 heavy duty drivers have so far been arrested in a nationwide sting Operation mounted by his division and other stake holders.

The police officer would not discuss details saying police investigations were ongoing.

However, Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that almost half of 70 heavy duty drivers recruited by Unitrans Transport Services recently were among the 200 who were arrested in the first week of the police operation.

Unitrans Area Manager and former Director of Road Transport and Safety, Moses Sebolai, confirmed that a few months ago they recruited 70 extra heavy duty drivers and placed then on training for three months.

He said 30 of the drivers were arrested and detained by police on suspicion of using forged licenses.

Sebolai said it would be a blow to Unitrans if indeed the drivers were using forged licenses because there is a shortage of heavy duty and extra heavy duty drivers in Botswana.

Acting Director of Road Transport and Safety, Orapeleng Mosigi, told Sunday Standard that a number of his officers were also arrested in the police raid. Mosigi would also not discuss details saying police investigations were ongoing.

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Public Relations Officer, Lentswe Motshoganetse, also confirmed that they had also opened investigations against the Department of Road Transport and Safety, but would not disclose any further details.

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information that in some cases, the Asian syndicates operating in Botswana forged official immigration and transport stamps from India, Pakistan and China to create an impression that the driver acquired the licence while studying in any of the countries. The driver would then use the fake licence and apply to have it converted into a Botswana licence.

Botswana Police Service, Senior Assistant Commissioner Paledi said the operations of the syndicate were “very complex and sophisticated” and that the forged licenses “look very genuine” and would not be detected by an untrained eye.

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