Police say several criminal syndicates are on a major mission to bomb and rob Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), especially in major villages.
This follows after two ATMs belonging to the Standard Chartered and Barclays banks were bombed last week. No culprits have been arrested as yet.
The incidents took place at Letlhakane and Ramokgwebana Villages. It is understood that most of the explosives that are being used in criminal activities are suspected to have been stolen from BCL mine in Selibe-Phikwe.
A single explosive costs between P1 500 and P3 000 on the black market.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard, senior superintendent Chajane Baleseng, of Letlhakane police station, said they are on a manhunt for suspects who allegedly bombed the Standard Chartered ATM last week.
Baleseng said they believe that the suspects used industrial explosives to bomb the ATM, adding that such explosives are available throughout the country.
He said the ATM was damaged but no money was stolen during the incident.
Baleseng said they are following leads that may lead to the arrest of the suspects.
“We really have a serious problem in these industrial explosives that are being used in criminal activities throughout the country,” he said, adding that what hurts most is the fact that the suspects who use these explosives are granted bail and go on to continue such activities while on bail.
Baleseng said the only remedy to curb such crime is to amend the law. He appealed to the members of the public to forward any information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits.
The principle mining engineer, Mr. Ruhal Doe Bohra, said the police had informed them about the stolen explosives and that they are aware of the situation.
Bohra said that earlier on, they introduced a new system whereby if one wants to be given a blasting license, the applicant would first be cleared by the police but if the applicant has a previous conviction no license would be awarded, adding that explosives dealers have also been warned not to sell explosives to individuals.
Bohra said last year, his department awarded about 115 licenses.
He said his ministry is planning to amend the law that deals with explosives and expected that tougher penalties will be imposed.
The chairman of the Botswana Bankers Association, Mr Thuli Johnson, said his association would issue a press statement after his committee had met.
In response, the Public Relations and Commemorations Officer at BCL, superintendent Tiro Kganele, said, “It is not true that explosives come from BCL.”
He said BCL Mines had been praised for the response to fighting organized crime that involved cables and explosives theft.
“As such, our mines are fully cognizant of the legal, criminal and business implications of the problem of explosives.”
Kganele further said the issue of crime involving the use of explosives has been high on the law enforcement agenda “as good accountability is a business imperative and not just social responsibility”.
He added that BCL is committed to plugging any leakage and regularly reviews its explosives handling and storage practices.