Sunday, March 26, 2023

Special Constables double dealing with criminal underworld

Botswana Police Service is facing questions over its recruitment agencies after it emerged that scores of Special Constables who were brought in to help fight crime are double dealing with the criminal underworld.

So far, special constables, estimated in hundreds, have been dismissed from service while some of their cases are either still under investigations or are pending before the magistrate’s courts country wide. This has sparked fears that organized crime may have cultivated some special constables as contacts for information and influence.

Indications are that Special Constables are vulnerable to being exploited by individuals involved in crime or on the edge of criminality because of their low wages and limited training.

Some of the Constables who refused to be named told The Sunday Standard that, “We get P1, 200 every month; the work we do is very sensitive and we are vulnerable to bribery.”

They said while they know that what they are doing is bad, they have no choice since the money they earn is little. The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has expressed concern over the growing number of Special Constables who are involved in criminal acts since the establishment of the unit a few years ago.

DCEC Spokesperson, Lentswe Motshoganetsi told The Sunday Standard that, “We are worried about the increasing number of special constables that are actively involved in criminal activities.”

He said the most recent incident was of three special constables stationed at Gaborone West police station who were arrested by the DCEC.

The officers have not yet been interdicted and are still reporting for duty.

“It is unfortunate that I am unable to provide you with the exact number of special constables that were arrested by DCEC for bribery because our system is temporally out of order,” he said.

The Special Constables are also reported to be prying on vulnerable sections of society, especially foreigners. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has expressed concern about officers who are extorting bribes from foreigners, especially illegal immigrants who are quick to give out money to avoid detention or deportation.

Botswana Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Police Commissioner, Christopher Mbulawa, told Sunday Standard that, “I am aware of three special constables based at Gaborone West police station that were involved in criminal activities.”

He says once a special constable is implicated in a criminal activity, such officer is interdicted without pay.

However, three special constables recently appeared before the Gaborone Village Magistrate court charged with three counts of corruption.

Court records reveal that the accused persons, Refilwe Annah Keganne (28), Donald Rantutu (31) and Khumoyame Mmopi (30 on the 30th June 2009 in Gaborone, whilst employed as Special Constables by the Botswana Police Service, accepted valuable consideration (bribe) in the sum of P600 from a certain Evelyn Phiri for not effecting an arrest on one Maclina Stima for staying and working in Botswana without valid travel documents and permits.

The second count states that the accused persons allegedly received P100 from one Alexander Longwe-Selolwane.

On the third count the accused persons are alleged to have on the 30th June 2009 in Gaborone accepted for themselves the sum of P400 from a certain James Mutsenah for not affecting an arrest on him for having employed illegal immigrants.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges and they will appear again on the 26th January 2011 to set trial dates.


Read this week's paper