The much acclaimed Botswana Police Service (BPS) crime television program, Itshireletse, which airs on Btv every Sunday, has reportedly created tense rivalry among its officers.
Sources say the BPS is to blame for the animosity and resentment among officers after it somersaulted on its promise to ‘evict’ some old actors from the Itshereletse cast “and rope in new blood”.
Reports indicate that although it is meant to be an educational programme, it has become popular and has since attracted the targeted audience. Sources say the programme has also proven to be a potential ladder for promotions within BPS hence officers jostle to be part of the cast. The programme has even attracted the attention of the highest office in the land, which recently conferred actors with the Presidential Award.
It is understood that the BPS earlier this year held auditions as part of its effort to rope in new actors into the TV programme but those selected say they had only been part of the cast not more than three times in the recent episodes since they were selected in February this year.
“We were called for a meeting by the management at Public Relations Unit where we were briefed on how we should conduct our selves when in public because we will soon become household names,” said some of the officers who preferred anonymity.
They claim that at the same meeting, Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa also informed them that the old actors would pave way for them.
“We were told to inform our relatives and spouses that they should not be surprised to see us on TV and the roles we play because some of them may be that of controversial characters. But since the five episodes that we shot in February, only two were aired on Btv,” said one of the aggrieved officers.
They said when they were shooting their first five episodes, old actors were not part of the cast “but we have realised that only two episodes out of the five we had shot appeared on TV. That was the end. We are no longer called to take part because old actors are back as part of the Itshireletse cast.”
Further accusing the BPS of unfair treatment, the officers say only two officers who passed the auditions had been incorporated into the old list of actors.
The new members say so serious is the situation that it has divided officers within the service.
“There is animosity between officers who have interest in acting and old actors because the old ones feel that we want to replace them and deprive them of chances of getting promotions,” said one of the new actors.
While he said he had not received formal complaints from the aggrieved officers, Mbulawa, who is also BPS spokesperson, said they had never promised officers that they would be permanent actors.
“We have not replaced old actors; we bring in new actors when the need arises or when we believe that an individual fits a certain role. We have also not assured officers that they will be actors for Itshireletse forever,” he said.
Mbulawa added: “We have a pool of actors in Gaborone, Francistown and Maun and we will continue to find out if we cannot have more of them.”
Itshireletse programme has become a hit with BTV viewers, including children who are encouraged by their parents and teachers to watch the programme and learn that crime does not pay from early stages.