The Botswana government’s repeated attempts to curb the influx of illegal immigrants seem not to be bearing fruit, as it has emerged that the number of illegal immigrants coming into Botswana continues to soar.
This was revealed by the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, at the launch of the new e-passport in Jackalas 2 recently.
In 2009 alone, Botswana recorded over 330 000 illegal immigrants, most of whom were found in the northern parts of Botswana.
While in the past Zimbabwean nationals dominated the illegal immigrants who flooded into Botswana, it has emerged that other nationalities are also finding their way into the country. These include Egyptians, Somalis, Indians and Sudanese.
Minister Siele pleaded with Batswana to desist from harbouring illegal immigrants, as many of them end up indulging in illegal dealings and criminal activities.
The e-passport was introduced after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) revealed that the Botswana passport has limited security features, such that criminals can easily recreate it.
Two hundred Botswana passports were retrieved by Interpol from international criminals in different countries, prompting countries like Britain to issue a stern warning to Botswana to up the security features on its passports.
“Botswana has signed a treaty with countries in the International Civil Aviation Organizations (ICAO) and they required us to make our passports much safer to use as they were vulnerable to criminals,” Siele said.
Such countries threatened to instigate stringent Visa requirements for Batswana, as more and more unsavory characters were arrested in criminal activities while in the possession of Botswana passports.
Botswana immigration officials have also contributed to the problem, as some of them have sold Botswana passports to foreigners, reportedly for as much as P28 000.
“The new passport is machine readable and is electronically advanced, even more than other passports in the region,” said the Minister.