The Directorate of Intelligence and Security, DIS, says it has uncovered a Chinese mafia syndicate operating in Botswana, which has deprived well-known businessmen of large amounts of money while waiting to board planes at the airport.
Sunday Standard investigations reveal that about three established businesspeople were deprived of huge amounts of money by the gang.
Some gang members have been identified through closed circuit television at the airport as they took people’s bags.
Investigations also reveal that Gaborone Sun Casino was deprived of about P1, 5 million.
A Chinese national, believed to be a member of the gang, was declared an “undesirable element” by the state and was kicked out of the country and given twenty-four hours to leave.
In the latest incident, the owner of Woolworths Stores fell victim to the gang as he waited to board a plane at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
“The syndicates not only target busy places such as hotel lobbies, lodge lobbies and airport check-in desks but also persons who use hotel lobbies and airport check-in desks, cafeteria, meet and greet areas and overtly have valuables in their possession, and are left unattended,” said a press release from DIS.
Isaac Kgosi, the Director of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, told Sunday Standard that they had uncovered a criminal syndicate comprising people of Chinese origin who have been operating in Botswana for some time.
He said the syndicates are mainly based in both Gaborone and Francistown while others are from South Africa.
Kgosi said money laundering by the gang in Francistown is rampant while in Gaborone the syndicate operates at various places that attract people, including the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
He said another syndicate, also of Chinese origin from South Africa, come to Botswana to extort money and threaten to kill some Chinese businessmen if they do not give them the money.
Kgosi explained that sometime this year one of the prominent hotels in Gaborone was deprived of cash amounting to about P1, 5 million at the Casino by people believed to be members of the Chinese gang.
“Some will bring into the casino areas miniature cameras, which are remotely monitored and placed at strategic points to enable their counterparts fraudulently win large amounts of money,” the press release said.
Kgosi said the alleged suspect was found in possession of about P200 000 which was part of the P1, 5m while his partner in the crime escaped the country.
“We were unable to pursue the case because the ring leaders managed to skip the country,” he said
Kgosi further revealed that already one Chinese national was found shot dead by unknown people along the A1 Highway near Serule.
“We have not yet established what could have been the motive behind the Chinese’s death and so far no suspects have been arrested in connection with the shooting incident,” he said.
Kgosi, however, said he has already met with the Chinese ambassador to inform him about the syndicates but declined to discuss the details of the meeting.
The Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs, Segakweng Tsiane, said that “there are some Chinese nationals who are being sent home because their papers were not satisfactory”.
Last Friday, DIS issued a press statement alerting the general public of the presence in the country “of a foreign criminal syndicate, established to be of Chinese origin”.
“Members of the public are therefore warned to avoid allowing attention distraction by unknown foreign nationals who may be and could be members of the criminal syndicate,” said the press statement. “As a Security Agency, we are doing everything to arrest the situation.”