Parliament has passed the Ministry of Defence and Justice budget proposal although it contained the procurement of radio equipments known as phone jammers whose use is banned by the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority BOCRA Act.
According to BOCRA the use of phone jammer is illegal in Botswana. Defending the procurement of the illegal radio equipment Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse said the equipment was meant to block air communication among the prisoner with the outside world.
He said that the equipment will track mobile calls by handsets smuggled into prisons used by inmates usually to organize gangs and drug deals and to harass crime victims and witnesses drugs outside prisons.
Seretse said that though the equipment is illegal there are incidents where there is exception. “We can’t just sit and do nothing when prisoners themselves smuggle phones inside prisons and we are told the phone jammers are illegal. This is not the first incident there are instances where phones are intercepted but there is nowhere in the law that clearly explains that phones should not be intercepted, “added Seretse.
Seretse says that it should not be concluded that the use of the gadgets are illegal while prisoners themselves smuggle cell phones that are prohibited inside prison.
Botswana Prison Boss, Colonel Silas Setlalekgosi also defended the purchase. Setlalekgosi said that despite the fact that phone jammers are illegal there is a need to safeguard the interest of the public.
He said that there was growing trend that is worrying where prisoners are found to be using cell phones to commit crimes while in prison.
“We are looking at the bigger picture because we can’t just allow people to run illegal businesses inside prisons. It’s a fact there is a worrying trend where kingpins opt to run their business behind bars,” said Setlalekgosi.
Seretse proposed to introduce electronic equipments in prison that will help authorities to track mobile calls used by convicted criminals in jail.
The equipments know as Cell Phone Jammers will help trace handsets smuggled into prisons. Seretse has asked Parliament to approve his ministry budget proposal of over P5.1 billion for the financial year 2014/15.??Seretse proposed P107 7 million for the department of Prisons and Rehabilitation of which P20 million will be used for prisons computerisation.
He stated that the funds will be used to purchase Cell phone Jammers at prisons as well as additional computers at Prisons.