Monday, July 22, 2024

Choppies Stores quizzed on human trafficking investigation

Botswana’s biggest local chain Supermarket, Choppies, is being quizzed by police officers, Immigration officers and labour officials as part of the ongoing human trafficking investigation.

The Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Ms Ramajalwa, told The Sunday Standard this week that the case was still being studied by the Labour Department to see if Choppies complied with the country’s labor laws. She said it is only after the labour office had gone through it that it would be passed to the immigration department to look at issues of residence permits.

The deputy Commissioner of Labour, on the other hand, told The Sunday Standard on Thursday that “the case was only referred to us by the police yesterday, and we are still studying it.”

The Choppies investigation is a small part of a big investigation in which more than a hundred suspects among them scores of Asian investors, police officers and labour consultants have been questioned by the Diamond and Narcotics Squad (DNS) targeting a large scale human trafficking network in Botswana.

Information passed to The Sunday Standard, however revealed that Choppies has not been caught out in any human trafficking charges and is being investigated in relation to questionable applications for their Asian employees.

In some cases, suspects- not part of the Choppies group – were believed to be part of an organized smuggling ring that has been trafficking illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan into Botswana. The police operation, which has been running for sometime, is understood to have broken a number of organized cells which have been using Botswana as a destination and transit for trafficked persons. Assistant Commissioner of Police and Deputy Director Criminal Investigation Department, Mathews Maduwane, confirmed during the early stages of the investigation that they quizzed a number of Asian investors, labour officers and labour consultants believed to be trafficking illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

It is understood a number of the suspects have already been deported to their home countries.


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