The power of social media appears destined to grow as technology gallops along.
Several dictators who clamped down on their states’ dissemination of information found themselves in exile as technology savvy citizens communicated publicly amongst themselves and drove presidents into exile, death and in changing unpopular governments.
Botswana’s version of using social media to beat the system, for good or bad, has come in the form of citizens giving each other tips and warnings about the location of highway patrols, speed traps and how to beat the breathalyzer tests.
An Open group, “!!!BoozeBus and Speed Trap Location Alert!!!”, has been set up on Facebook to warn local motorists about the locations of police speed trap locations as well as the whereabouts of the recently introduced Booze Buses, which undertake on the spot breathalyser tests.
With most of the updates made via mobile phones, the page seems to be quite popular amongst Batswana as it boasts over five thousand members and gets updated almost every hour, with comments from members warning or requesting for information on police roadblocks.
“Will be hitting Moleps in a very short time; please update on the speed traps and roadblocks ditsala”.
One Thutego Sibanda warned of a police roadblock along the Serule-Phikwe road.
“Ba ntse ka ha tlase ga setlhare on the left ha o tswa phikwe just opposite gate ya damuchujena” (They are sitting under a tree just outside Phikwe opposite the Damuchujena gate).
One of the members had this to write about Speed Camera/radar gun rules:
“Naturally u shud start by askin for forgiveness but if the cop is a bitter one and doesn’t listen then ask for the calibration certificate for the camera, the law states that it should always be kept with the camera, ga a se o tshola ke molato!
-a constable is not allowed to operate the radar gun/camera!
-If they a using a gun which shows only number (not pictures like the camera) ask him to prove to u that the speed he is showing you is yours!”
PS: The law has provided us with loopholes, it’s time we fully utilised them, remember in a traffic offence you don’t have to prove ur innocence but the cop is the one who has to prove you are guilty!”
The Facebook page also gives advice to would-be drunk-driving offenders. One member advised would-be drink-and-drive offenders to drive around with a bottle of cough syrup as it contains alcohol hence when they get pulled over and fail a breathalyser test they blame it on the medicine.
“O’k Guys I’m telling u this for the last time, Tami/breathalyzer e kgonwa ke Cough syrup ya (Vicks), the trick is always have it in your car coz e container alcohol so ga tsena fa go bone u just tell them gore u are on medication o ntse o nwa molemo then show it to them gore e nne bosupi ba gago! like that le ko court ba tlhaloganya!”
The mobile testing vehicles, also known as Booze Busses, are a recent acquisition by the Botswana Police in a bid to curb drunken driving and to boost police capabilities for compulsory road breath testing. The buses are equipped with state of the art Breathalyzer testing gadgets and secure holding cells for nabbed offenders.
Botswana has committed itself to carrying out the United Nations’ General Assembly “Decade of Action For Road Safety 2011-2020” campaign, which intends to reduce road accident fatalities by half by the year 2020.