Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Finally Botswana Police will carry guns

Botswana is a country that has been envied by many when it comes to the peace and tranquility that has for many years prevailed in this nation. When I travelled across Africa in the 1990s, people that I met used to tell me that they know Botswana to be the leading country in the continent when it comes to peace and the low levels of crime.

I would say without any hesitation that the reason why our soldiers were very successful in their peacekeeping missions across Africa was for the fact that nations already knew what level of integrity we were carrying when it comes to peace. One of the things that surprised many was for the fact that our police were not going around armed like it is the case in all of Africa.

I think I am not totally off the mark to mention that we were the last country that remained where the police were going around without arms. By this I am not referring to the Special Support Group, which is rather a para-military outfit by design. The ordinary police who do general duties and traffic work have remained unarmed to this day.

Looking overseas, the United Kingdom has maintained this stance of not arming their police even in the past prevailing circumstances of having to deal with the Irish Republican Army in the 80s and the 90s. They remained resolute that their police were going to remain unarmed.

However, the UK government provided other platforms which made life easier for the unarmed police. They developed very effective counter-terrorism team through their web and intricate network of intelligence agencies. Further to this, there were surveillance cameras everywhere as far back as 1990. Technology did vast work for the police and we are still far behind what the UK had achieved three decades ago.

Some months back there was a picture on social media that went viral. The depiction projected in that photograph was a policeman running away from an assailant who seemed like he was about to release a projectile in the form of a stone or a hard projectable object. I am trying to adhere to the terms that the police often use here, but otherwise in civilian terms, that individual was chasing a policeman with a stone.

I believe this picture became a turning point that ultimate drove the police top brass to convince government that their subordinates now needed to carry guns for self-protection. The only protection the police office could rely on was to run for his dear life. This picture was humiliating to say the least. A police officer in uniform projects the authority of the government. And in this case government was being challenged by that particular individual.

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