Despite sporadic incidents of crime, Botswana is generally a safe place for foreign business travelers, expatriates and tourists. Overall the security situation is much more positive than in other states in the region due to political stability and an established democracy, with a low threat level from terrorism or war. This is according to the BMI Research Crime and Security Index. The police are approachable and relatively free from corruption, and all this makes Botswana a safer investment destination. This contributes to the country’s regional outperformance in the BMI Research Crime and Security Index. Botswana comes in third place out of 44 Sub Saharan countries, with a score of 63.7 out of 100, just below Namibia.
The main criminal risks to foreigners are from petty crime such as cell phone snatching and mugging, especially pick pocketing, due to a rise in poverty resulting from the financial crisis. “The influx of economic refugees from Zimbabwe is also being blamed for a growth in crime rates, while Batswana are also found guilty of most crimes,” the report reads. “Theft and burglaries by Zimbabwean criminals often turn violent, and foreigners are targets due to their perceived wealth.” According to the survey, murder rates in Botswana are high by global standards, despite strict gun laws. “Foreigners are not specific targets, however attacks take place primarily for financial gain,” it reads.
Organised crime is a lesser phenomenon in Botswana than in South Africa, but the country is subject to spill-over affects from its neighbour. Illegal poaching also continues, albeit at a lower level than in other countries thanks to government law enforcement intervention and stricter border controls. As a result of these factors, Botswana received a score of 56.3 out of 100 for its Criminal Risk, placing the country at number six regionally, behind regional leaders such as Mauritius, Rwanda, and Cape Verde.
The risk of a terrorist attack occurring in Botswana is low. However, socially divisive issues could gain greater prominence. For example the issue of gay rights is becoming more prevalent in the public discourse, although it has not reached the level of Uganda or Nigeria, where individuals are mugged in broad daylight.