The Department of Immigration and Citizenship says it has busted a criminal syndicate that has been illegally obtaining and issuing Botswana passports. 15 people are said to be in custody.
The syndicate is said to be made up of mostly Nigerian nationals who connived with some Botswana immigration officials.
So far, 10 foreigners, 2 immigration officers and 3 consultants have been nailed in connection with the passport racket. The arrested immigration officials, who are allegedly part of the syndicate, were said to have been issuing passports to foreign nationals illegally. It is reported that they were paid over P20 000 per passport.
It is alleged that one member of the syndicate, an immigration official, was nearly caught in Francistown but managed to elude arrest but the department still decided to transfer him to Gaborone where he was then later caught red-handed in illegal passport dealings.
Botswana passports are reportedly being sold in Asia and the rest of the world.
Since the reports filtered through, the government decided to penalise any person who losses his or her passport who then would be required to pay, after a waiting period, an amount of P1 000 for a new passport.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Mrs Lebogang Bok, said the Immigration Department had made a major breakthrough following the recent arrest of the 15 suspects.
She appealed to the members of the public to take care of their passports.
In a brief interview, Assistant Superintendent Lebang Maniki, of Gaborone Central Police Station, said some people will soon appear before court but would not give any further details.