With or without their passports, the unscrupulous money mongers who shipped Botswana youth into poverty, emotional stress and shame, abroad on empty offers of jobs and opportunity, will be sent packing, when Botswana’s police services are through with their investigations.
Government spokespeople say there are several bogus companies, most of them established by foreigners, that prey on young jobseekers and Batswana seeking further education, ripping them off of cash and property in exchange for false offers of opportunities outside the country.
Streams of Batswana are returning home to Botswana distraught and penniless from as far afield as Ireland, and some are still struggling to make it back.
Sunday Standard interviewed some of Batswana who returned from Ireland as well as those who are trying to make a living there, most of whom preferred to remain anonymous.
Many say they were swindled and given empty promises by Preuma Concepts situated in Broadhurst.
They first saw an advert in a local newspaper and followed the directions to the office where they were assisted by two ladies a man named only as ‘Tony’ and the director of the company.
One said they demanded P200 for registration and the students later paid them about P16,500 for school fees.
“I was very excited after I paid my school fees because I knew that I would be going to Ireland where I would make a lot of money,” she said.
Another said: “I became suspicious upon my arrival in Ireland where I waited about for hours at the airport waiting to be picked by the school but nothing came until I took a bus to the school. They said the school told them that they do not pick students at the air port.”
They said things came to a head when they arrived and were told that a room is shared by eight students.
They said ladies are forced into prostitution while men do drugs for a living.
“It is not easy to come and reveal your identity because we are afraid that if the public gets to know they will judge us not understanding the circumstances that we found ourselves in. It’s really bad.
“We would like to appeal to Batswana that they should be careful when they see such adverts in newspapers and they should not be fooled by such adverts.”
Speaking to Sunday Standard, Sarumi Adetayo, the managing director of Preuma Concepts, said: “Sometime this year, my office was raided by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security officers from which they took my computers and detained me together with my friend. I was later released.
He admitted that his company has sent dozens of Batswana to study in Ireland to work while studying.
“I have never cheated any person or made empty promises to those who are studying in Ireland,” he said.
He stressed that there is no Motswana who is stranded in Ireland or forced to do prostitution or drug dealing for survival.
Adetayo said he encourages students to have enough pocket money before they go to Ireland because the country is expensive.
“I do send Batswana students overseas, especially to Ireland,” he confirmed.
On 31 July the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security issued a press statement informing the general public about unscrupulous individuals and companies operated by locals and foreigners, which are currently preying on unsuspecting citizens with false promises of obtaining employment, study and travel opportunities outside Botswana as far as Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK and the United States of America.
The press statement states that the criminal syndicates often approach their victims through legitimate sounding newspaper advertisements as emails.
It further says once they have travelled to their destinations, many of the victims have found themselves stranded while some are forced into circumstances such as prostitution, involuntary labour or refugees.
The ministry advises the public to exercise caution in dealing with situations that promise overseas opportunities.
The public is further encouraged to check the veracity of such offers with the Directorate of Intelligence and Security.