Welcome to Mogaditshu, but make no mistake. This is not the Mogadishu you probably have in mind, that war-bloodied capital city of Somalia. This is our very own ‘Mogadishu’ ÔÇô which you know as Mogoditshane.
Over the last few years, the village of Mogoditshane has boomed, driven by encroaching urbanisation and rapid construction. ┬áIts population density has risen from 3 people per square meter in 2001 to 3.5 person per square meter in 2011, according to the population census. In fact, the village has jumped from 7th position in 2001 to 2nd position in 2011 in the rankings of Botswana’s largest villages.
While the nickname ‘Mogadishu’ comes from Mogoditshane’s increasing notoriety for crime, violence and hooliganism, it is in another area that this sprawling village is becoming unique. And that is its trade in second hand cars.
The second hand car industry is these days representing what has increasingly become the most common business in Mogoditshane, spreading as it were like the proverbial fatcakes industry. The cars sold by the dealers can be cheap – a Toyota Corolla can fetch as little as P10,000 depending on negotiations of the price. In that sense, Mogoditshane is becoming Botswana’s Durban.
Yet the second hand car industry here has also drawn attention for the wrong reasons. On March 16, former Police Commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako addressed Mogoditshane Kgotla about the high crime rate in the village. He touched on the issue of public concerns that many of these car dealers are illegal or unlicensed. Further, he touched on concerns that some of these garages were fronts for drug peddling operations.
“We are doing collective operations in collaboration with the trade regulations. We go around and if we find anyone suspicious we arrest him or her,” said Mogoditshane Station Commander, Nkwebi Chilisa, on the issue. “Recently there was an operation where we removed many illegal dealers, from the Mogoditshane four way drive to Kwena mall; we removed those who are on road sides and those inside homes.”
According to Mogoditshane Sub district Council Business Inspections, from February to September many car dealers inspected were trading without licences while some were trading out of their premises. ┬áReports state that trading without licences attracted a charges starting from P1000.00.
Errant dealers were immediately ordered to close down. Lately in September, the council business inspections shows most cars dealing business complying with regulations. This is after many were removed in a cleanup campaign between the Police and council which started early in the month.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Mogoditshane/ Thamaga Sub District Senior Assistant Council Secretary, Stephen Motlogelwa, said the council in collaboration with other departments are putting in a robust effort to remove illegal motor dealings from the Mogoditshane area.
“Mogoditshane/ Thamaga Sub Council through Law Enforcement Committee which comprises of various Government departments such as Police, Immigration, and Labour Environmental Health Unit and others conduct frequent joint operations targeting those illegal motor dealers,” said Motlogelwa.
In the past many car displays were seen on the roadside and in homes or residential plots. This called for a cleanup campaign which started on 2010 to remove illegal trading.┬á The Willie Seboni area, which forms the bulk of the residential area, has seen many car dealing businesses being removed. The A12 area, mainly commercial, is said by the council to be the ideal area for trading
When explaining the legalities of the motor vehicle application, Motlogelwa said when considering motor dealer licence application they first look at the land use for the proposed plot. This is to say whether the plot in question is zoned as a commercial, industrial or residential one. Motor dealer business must be operated within a commercial plot. Normally the size of the plot is not considered, but when issuing the licence an endorsement is made that vehicles must always be displayed within the licensed premises.
Motlogelwa said in some instances, some illegal dealers just drive from Gaborone and dump their cars on the side road. The car will be on display, with a price on it, for the ‘passersby’ to see it and buy while the owner is not known.┬á This he said makes it difficult for the Mogoditshane council and the police to catch the errant dealers.
Motlogelwa said the council, through the Ipelegeng programme, are working with law enforcement officers to bring sanity to Mogoditshane. Among other things, they will be charging people who park for long hours on roadside. One second hand car dealer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he sees Mogoditshane as a good site for selling cars as it is near the city. The dealer said he has been in this business for about six years, driven by his love for cars as he used to work at garages.
According to the dealer, Mogoditshane’s population boom makes it a good target market. However, he said, genuine car dealers are regretting that among the pack are those who are tarnishing the image of the car business by selling drugs or operating illegally.
Many residents of Mogoditshane spoken to said they have resigned themselves to the area being cluttered with car parts and despoiled by leaked oils from used cars. Some are adamant that the second hand car trade is worsening crime and tarnishing Mogoditshane’s image.
According to their annual activity plan for 2012/13, the Mogoditshane/Thamaga Sub district Council is hard at work to promote social justice and order. In this pursuit, they aim to achieve a 100 percent success rate in ensuring motor dealers conforms to proper land use.
The council plans to strengthen its visibility on the field and conduct frequent patrols and business inspections.