Thursday, March 4, 2021

DIS boss says bomb scares are targeted at banks

DIS Director Isaac Kgosi last week revealed that the spate of hoax bomb scares that recently hit Botswana are not a terror threat, but a ploy by would-be bank robbers to create confusion so they can get an opportunity to rob local banks.

In a presentation before the public accounts committee (PAC) on Thursday, Kgosi said the fake bomb scares, which have caused confusion and heightened apprehension among Batswana, are a desperate attempt by robbers to create confusion so they can breach the tight security at local banks. He added that the fake bomb scares that have been rocking the country are actually attempted decoys by would be bank robbers. “We have established that these bomb scares have nothing to do with terrorism.

They were just innovative attempts by would be bank robbers to create confusion,” he said. He said the bomb scare alerts are made to create confusion among bank employees so that they leave the bank in a hurry with keys and money unsecured, ready for the bank robbers to just walk in and collect. Kgosi added that some of the bomb scares were simply raised out of excitement by people who just wanted to cause alarm. In the past few months, Botswana has been hit by a spate of bomb scares which sparked fears that the country may be a target for terror attacks.

Business was brought to a halt during all these attacks as people were evacuated fro their offices while the bomb squad and fire brigade were roped in to investigate, at immense cost to the taxpayer. The first bomb scare occurred last year, when thousands of people were evacuated from Finance House, a high rise building that houses Barclays bank at the government enclave, after a prankster called in to say the building will explode within a few minutes. The bomb squad and fire department rushed to the scene to investigate, while the police battled to control an agitated crowd. In the end, no bomb was found.

A suspect, Bobo Molebatsi Zebe, was later arrested and released. In the first week of May business was brought to a halt in the central business district, as security personnel scurried around on a wild goose chase after yet another bomb scare hoax. A prankster had called in to say there was a bomb at the CBD, where the headquarters of First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) and branches of Stanbic and Banc ABC are located. Still on the same day in Francistown, scores of employees were evacuated after another bomb scare at Galo mall, which houses Stanbic bank and Bank Gaborone. After a three hour search, the police declared the bomb alarm a hoax. Police explosion expert Supt.

Kegakgametse Pelaelo later confirmed that security agents had scoured the premises and found nothing suspicious. Local banks would be an attractive target for criminals, after raking in millions in profits in the last year. Standard Chartered Bank broke through the P1 billion mark in its 2013 full year financial results while its bulging loan book currently sits at around P6.2 billion. For the 2013 full year, FNBB recorded a little over P700 million in profits while its loan book was perked over P11 billion.

Another top performer, Barclays Bank, has a P3.2 billion market capitalisation. Banc ABC, a relative new comer in the local market, has also experienced impressive growth and its market value stands at P1.3 billion. Banc ABC’s profits for the full year ended 31st December grew by 49 percent to P189 million.

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