Police Officers from Gaborone Central Police Station on Friday night raided the streets of Gaborone, mostly around Gaborone Sun, Maruapula and Partial locations and arrested alleged sex workers, most of them illegal immigrants. According to police, they were all from Zimbabwe.
Assistant Superintendent Diataka Vincent Pitseetsile says that every week the police encounter sex workers, some of whom are illegal immigrants who rent houses, despite having no work permits and therefore being regarded as visitors.
“Visitors live in hotels and do not rent houses,” he said.
Pitseetsile said because the sex workers cannot afford to each rent a house, they share rooms in filthy and unhealthy conditions, which is against the immigration law.
“These people live comfortably in unbelievable conditions,” he said.
He added that the dangerous game the prostitutes play is affecting the nation because in many cases it is found that Batswana men, some married, buy sex from them.
“When being interviewed, they would tell you sex without protection has a higher price than with protection,” said Pitseetsile. “This clearly reveals that some of these girls are infected and one may wonder how many people get infected in just one night.”
He says that because of such reasons, there should be a clear law against prostitution that would enable them to get the matter under control. He says that the law they are currently using to arrest them is section 176 of the Penal Code, which is about common nuisance. They only arrest those that are illegal immigrants and even though they can tell that one is a sex worker, they are not empowered to do anything unless they catch that person in action.
According to Pitseetsile, prostitution has moved to a different level which is very unfortunate because there is only so much that can be done.
“If you can walk into the Gaborone Secondary Grounds right now, you are going to see things you would have never imagined in your wildest imagination, many cars are parked there and everybody does as they please.”
Pisteestile says it is because of the lack of law that these street workers keep coming back when they are sent back home almost every week.
“Most of the girls you see here are arrested almost every other week, we send them back home and then we see them back after a short while.”
He states that they carry these operations every week and already know their peak days when they will be roaming the streets in large numbers.
Pisteestile added that even though they know the common places they live from; it becomes difficult at times because they strategise and they can tell their clients from the others because they communicate and come up with styles of parking. He also added that they warn each other when they are being arrested which leads to a smaller number being taken off the streets.