Monday, July 4, 2022

BURS , Botswana Police square off over sale of boarded vehicles

Hundreds of Batswana who bought boarded vehicles from a Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) auction sale have been left in the lurch because the Botswana Police Service will not clear the vehicles to be registered in their names.

It is understood that BURS may have breached an agreement treaty between Botswana and South Africa by auctioning off the vehicles before clearing them off with the South African Police Service.

A source at BURS claims that the organisation was aware of the procedure but decided “to put unsuspecting members of the public in a bind by selling them foreign registered vehicles which have not been cleared with the country of origin”.

The vehicles are part of goods confiscated by the customs department. BURS decided to dispose off the vehicles through a public auction (rummage sale) in January this year in Selebi Phikwe and other areas across the country.

Four months and many inquiries later, Batswana who bought the BURS vehicles are still stuck with unlicensed cars still registered under the names of original owners.

Serious Crime Squad blames BURS for having sold the vehicles to motorists before it could clear them with Interpol or South African Police Service.

BURS on the other hand insists that there was nothing unprocedural in auctioning off the vehicle before they could be cleared with the SAPS. “BURS should have registered the vehicles with South African Police Service before they could sell them to us. Now we are stuck with the vehicles. Since we bought them in January this year we have not used them,” said one of the motorists.

While he said he was on leave and not aware of the matter, BURS Chief Executive Officer, Ken Morris said they had not breached any Act when selling impounded foreign goods including the vehicles in question. He explained that the Act empowers them to sell any goods that they had impounded even if they originate from a foreign country and they had not been cleared from the country of origin.

Morris added that the Act does not allow them to discuss matters that involve their clients with third parties in details.

“As for now, we do not have impounded vehicles, we have sold them through public auctions. As to whether those who bought the cars are unable to clear them is not the responsibility of BURS. Our Act empowers us to sell any goods irrespective of whether they are impounded vehicles or goods,” he said.

He said the Police and Department of Transport were responsible for clearance and licensing of the vehicles.

“Our duty is just to sell the vehicles and after that we have nothing to do with them,” he said.
Detective Superintendent Phanyoitsile Nnanakoko of the Serious Crime Squad confirmed that they were handling the matter together with BURS. Nnanakoko revealed that the agreement treaty between South Africa and Botswana provides that for any foreign vehicles to be cleared in another country, it must first be cleared from the country of origin.

“Our hands are tied as the police because we cannot clear vehicles if they have not been cleared from their country of origin. We have been in contact with the South African Police over the issue and they say they can only assist us when the original owners of the cars come forward to clear them,” he said.

Nnanakoko said BURS should have cleared the cars with South African authorities before selling them to the public. “If such a process was not followed then it is going to impact negatively on the buyers of such vehicles and we have not found a solution as we speak. BURS should have come to us with police clearance from South Africa,” he said.

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