Monday, January 24, 2022

Guns for sale ÔÇô how stolen police weapons arm dangerous criminals

Fresh evidence has emerged that guns stolen from Botswana Police Service Central Arms Registry are being used to arm dangerous criminals.
Two police officers, a sergeant and an inspector are on suspension on suspicion that they are part of the illicit fire arms trade ring. This followed a sting operation into the arms registry personnel authorized on behalf of the police commissioner.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Mathews Letsholo confirmed that “a sergeant and inspector are currently on suspicion at the central arms registry. The matter is still under investigation and therefore it will not be proper to discuss it at this stage.”
Sunday Standard investigations have also turned up information that scores of disgruntled security agents may be working with suspects believed to be behind the growing number of armed robberies currently rocking Gaborone. The supply of arms from the Police Central Arms Registry is reported to have turned a number of petty thieves into armed and dangerous robbers.
In the latest incidents an Indian national and a security guard among others were shot to death while a number of supermarkets were robbed of thousand of Pula at gun point.
“If we are to contain and bring the use of fire arms in the country, especially those used in criminal activities, there is need to review the handling and issuing of firearms in the country, at the Central Arms Registry and those that enter the country illegally,” said a senior security agent who asked to remain anonymous.
Details of the police investigations into the BPS illicit gun trade are being kept secret to protect the operational secrecy of the Botswana Police Service counter gun smuggling campaign ÔÇô police insiders have revealed.
In a previous interview, Letsholo would not discuss allegations that one of the officers under investigation was tailed by some of his colleague as part of the investigation. The officer was ultimately arrested in possession of P48 000 which he could not account for.
Letsholo, however said it was the first time he had ever authorized such an investigation into the police Police Central Registry on behalf of the Police Commissioner.?“It is a sensitive matter because we do not know the extent to which our investigations will lead us. If we were to share more details with the media now some of the things that we could use as exhibits are likely to disappear. We appreciate the role you play as the media but at times we have to be stingy when necessary as far is releasing information is concerned,” said Letsholo.?He reiterated that the matter is sensitive because what they are likely to unearth during their investigations could be brought before court. It is also understood that a scores of gun crime suspects when interrogated by the police on to how they came to be in possession of firearms, informed investigating officers that they were supplied with guns from the Police Central Arms Registry by some officers-in-charge.?Sunday Standard investigations have also revealed that a number of gun shop owners around the country were questioned as part of the investigation in to the illicit dealing of fire arms by Police Central Arms Registry officers. It has also emerged that the department has lost count of the number of fire arms that remain unaccounted for in its inventory because responsible officers are able to conceal vital information. There are also claims that retired senior officers awarded themselves with shot guns. Responding to Sunday Standard inquiries, Police Commissioner Keabetswe Makgope, said whilst some senior officers have been awarded shot guns in the past, it is not a standing and binding arrangement. “In our view we should not divulge who owns a gun for security reasons. We are however, not aware of any firearms owned by retired police officers used in criminal activities,” said Makgope.

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