Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Police about to arrest Chinese kingpin trading in counterfeits

Botswana Police has said they are close to arresting a prime suspect regarded as one of the” biggest fish” that supplies counterfeit goods into Botswana and the rest of Africa.
Retail shops trading in counterfeit goods were raided by law enforcement agencies and thousands of goods were seized and a handful of individuals arrested.
Botswana is used as a hub and conduit of counterfeit goods manufactured mainly from China and smuggled into the African continent.
The prime suspect, who is one of the wealthiest Chinese in Botswana is said to be the backbone of the trade across the continent.
Recently law enforcement agencies with the assistance of brand owners mainly from South Africa conducted raids across the capital city and a number of such goods were seized and the agents arrested for dealing with such prohibited items.
The Director of Criminal Investigation Department Kesetsenao Tshweneitsile has said they are “very close” to arresting one of the biggest suspected suppliers who specialises in importing and driving the trade of counterfeits goods.
He said the kingpin came to Botswana sometime back under the pretext that he was an investor only to set up a business that mainly deals with counterfeits.
He said the information that the police have gathered suggests that the suspect is being supplied by his father in-law who is in China and happens to have a factory in his home state which churns such illicit mechandise destined for Africa.
“I am not in a position to disclose the identity of the suspect. He currently lives in Phakalane in a big mansion,” he said.
Tshweneitsile explained that police and other law enforcement agencies together with brand owners raided a good number of major shopping complexes around Gaborone that includes main mall, BBS mall and Rail Park.
Thousands of such goods were seized from different shops and about twenty seven people and companies have been arrested and the number might rise as raids are continuing he stated.
He said most of the goods that were targeted are clothing and electronics goods. He stated that some locals are also involved in selling counterfeits.
“One thing that disturbs the brand owners is the fact though some well known locals go to the extent of supplying counterfeits goods to reputable institutions bearing brand names,” he said.
“Brand owners such as Microsoft agents, Jeep and other big brands are here in Botswana to assist in identifying and removing counterfeits from stores,” he said.
“We cannot allow this kind of culture to continue because once these products flood the market our economy will be ruined,” he said.
He added that sometimes the country can be black listed by the World Trade Organisation.
This, in the end tarnishes the image of the country and we should join hands and vow to put an end to it he said.
Tshweneitsile said in order to curb such products repeat offenders will be black-listed.
Tsweneetsile further said they have now discovered a new trend where some Chinese approach certain individuals and vendors and supply them with counterfeits goods.
He however highlighted that some time back a similar exercise was conducted in Francistown and tonnes of counterfeits goods were confiscated by the police.
He warned the public to desist from the bad tendency of buying such goods because the goods do not meet the set standards.
The environment in which they are manufactured is also questionable so Batswana expose themselves health hazards and danger such as radiation in terms of electronic appliances that are not original such as micro waves.
It’s not the cost of items that should be determined but rather the quality standards. He added that the government is trying by all means to protect the consumers but in the end, it is the end user who makes the exercise futile.

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