Sunday, November 29, 2020

Questions arise over easy availability of police uniforms

The leadership of the Botswana Police Service has come out with guns blazing in defense of the safety of the national police uniform.

The police service has recently been under fire, after questions emerged as to how easy it is for criminals to access the police uniforms. The questions were raised after numerous incidents in which robbers hoodwinked members of the public into thinking that they were police officers as they carried out robberies clad in police uniform.

In the latest incident, robbers posing as police officers hijacked a Trojan Security vehicle and made away with P2 million.

Deputy Commissioner Ikwatlhaeng Bagopi told The Telegraph last week that police officers are aware that stern action would be taken against them if they neglect to care for their uniforms.

“It is the responsibility of police officers to take care of their uniforms and ensure that it does not fall in the wrong hands,” said Bagopi.

He, however, could not explain how the suspects in the Trojan robbery came to be in possession of the police uniform. Bagopi explained that officers who leave the police service are required to hand back their uniform as it is government property.

“Sometimes we lend our uniform to other organizations like drama groups. But we always make sure that we get it back in one piece,” said Bagopi.

He cautioned officers who fail to take care of their uniform, or lend it to unscrupulous individuals, that they risk dismissal if they are caught.

“We will thoroughly investigate cases of uniform theft and take stern action against any officers who are found to have been negligent,” said Bagopi.

However, some police officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, dismissed Bagopi’s statements as unfounded, saying their uniform is not safe as it can easily be stolen. They explained that police officers’ housing quarters are not fenced, making it easy for thieves to steal the uniform from washing lines.

“We live in abhorable conditions with very minimal security. How then are we supposed to fend and care for our uniform when we wash and hang it in areas where it can be easily stolen?” they said.
The officers differed with Bagopi, saying government does very little to recover uniforms from officers who leave the police service.

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Sunday Standard November 29 – 5 December

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of November 29 - 5 December, 2020.