Phane traders in Selibe Phikwe and surrounding areas have expressed uneasiness with South African authorities after they were barred from crossing into that country to sell phane unless they had business visas.
One of the traders, Gosego Matshameko, who says she has been in the trade for the past 12 years, told The Telegraph that she got to know of the latest development in December last year. When she visited the South African High Commission to get the visa, she was told that the business visa had long been discontinued.
Matshameko says it is unfortunate and intimidating that while Batswana are being denied the opportunity to export phane, South Africans continue to get it without any hassle.
She claims this disadvantages them over SA nationals.
Matshameko has called on Botswana authorities to attend to the matter urgently.
The Officer in Charge at the Forestry and Range Resources office, which issues export permits for phane, Hloniphani Matariri, says although they have received reports of Batswana being turned back at the border, they have not received any communication from the South African authorities on the matter.
He says his office has visited the Martins Drift border post and intends to resolve the issue for the benefit of all the parties involved.
The Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Mable Bolele, says the issue of harvesting phane is still under discussion and they are yet to meet with the Minister of Trade and Industry on Wednesday afternoon on the matter.