Sunday, September 27, 2020

Over 1000 Batswana trafficked to Europe

Botswana police are investigating a human trafficking ring thought to be responsible for trafficking more than 1000 Batswana from the country and selling them for cheap labour, sexual exploitation, servitude and debt bondage in Europe.

Police investigations are focusing on Business Consultants who are believed to be spiders in the extensive web that is believed to have trafficked more than 1000 Batswana.

So far, eight business consultants and six other suspects believed to be part of the human trafficking ring are already in police custody.

Detective Assistant Superintendent Selebatso Mokgosi from Interpol confirmed to the Sunday Standard that a Motswana woman who had been trafficked to work in a Canadian brothel was recently arrested in Canada without work and resident permits.

Detective Assistant Superintendent Mokgosi would not disclose details on the case, saying, “It is too early to reveal the identity of the suspect.”

Figures on human trafficking are piecemeal and incomplete due to the covert nature of the operation.

Detective Assistant Superintendent Mokgosi was unable to provide figures to illustrate the scale of the problem in Botswana, saying although they are not sure of the actual figure, their number is “believed to be huge.” A source close to the investigation, however, says the figure is believed to be more than 1000.

Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that a number of legally registered business consultants run by foreigners are a front for international human traffickers who often lure victims into phony moneymaking opportunities, then hold them in slavery-like conditions overseas. Investigations further revealed that young and vulnerable women and girls, who are desperate or susceptible to force and deception, tend to be targets for people traffickers.

People trafficking is believed to be the third more profitable cross border crime after drugs and gun running. However, unlike drugs or gun smuggling, it does not require a substantial initial financial outlay which makes it attractive to a host of shady local business consultants.

Detective Assistant Superintendent Mokgosi appealed to Batswana seeking employment outside the country to be extra vigilant.

Business consultants seem to be taking advantage of Botswana’s weak regulatory regime.
The Director of Consumer Affairs at the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, John Macheng, said service providers like business consultants are requested to have miscellaneous licenses.

“As the ministry, we were very concerned about the way in which business service providers operate.”

He said such businesses are “crowded” with non citizens and it is difficult to tell legitimate investors from criminals. He said their business will be regulated when the governing law is amended sometime in July.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.