Since the introduction of the P1 000 fine for the lost passport nearly two years ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs says the fine has paid dividends and the Botswana passport has now re-gained its international integrity.
Speaking to Sunday Standard this week, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Segakweng Tsiane, said, “Since the introduction of the P1 000 fine for lost passports, the number of reported lost passports has dramatically gone down.”
She said the fine has made wonders and reported lost passport cases, both locally and internationally, have plummeted dramatically.
Tsiane said if they had not acted accordingly to address the issue, the integrity of Botswana passports would have been lost and Batswana would have been required to apply for visas to enter many countries.
However, Tsiane said that there appears to be a new trend whereby some people claim that they have lost their passports and pay the fine, only for the person to show up a few days later demanding a refund saying they found their lost passport.
“The ministry is not going to refund anybody who has paid for his lost passport, not ever,” she said, adding that once you report your passport as lost and you pay the fine, that passport will electronically be cancelled to the rest of the world and can never be used by anyone ever again.
She stressed that if such claims continue, the ministry will seek relevant laws to deal with such people.
“People should know that it is a criminal offense to give false information to a public officer,” she said.
Tsiane said the deadline to phase out the old passports is December 2011.
“The rate at which Batswana are applying for new passports is very high, therefore, we might phase them out before the scheduled deadline,” she said.
Asked if they have recorded any cases in which the new E passport has been reported lost, she said, “We are still monitoring the situation because it has only been in circulation for three months so I cannot comment further on that.”
She urged the public to keep their traveling documents in safe places.
The ministry was forced to introduce the P1 000 fine after it was alleged that some Batswana were selling their passports to international criminal syndicates.
Since then the government spent millions of pula to introduce the new E passport which is machine readable and has strong safety features that meet international standards.