Botswana Premier League (BPL) may soon find itself in an embarrassing situation as the local law enforcement officers wade through its murky waters to investigate an alleged ticket fraud scam.
This follows last week’s incident in which Township Rollers officials nabbed unknown individuals selling match tickets without the knowledge or authority of the team.
The said transgression is said to have occurred prior to the BPL’s Category A match between league defending champions Rollers and rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
While investigations are still at an early stage, preliminary evidence seems to point at an accusatory finger at the BPL offices, with an official at the secretariat already helping the police with investigations.
This was confirmed by the Borakanelo Police Station commander Mothusi Phadi who said they have questioned a BPL official regarding the incident.
According to Phadi, the incident came to the fore when Rollers officials nabbed “one lady for selling what was suspected to be illegal tickets”.
“When asked where she got the ticket from she said she obtained them from an official at the premier league office. The said officer is now helping us with investigations,” said Phadi.
Although the police are cagey with information, the discovery of the alleged fraud has now refueled suspicions that have been making rounds that a syndicate of well organised people is siphoning monies from the teams through illegal ticket sales.
For some time now, local teams have expressed concern about their low returns from gate takings despite large spectator turnouts at their games.
Asked whether there were other people implicated in the ticket scam, Phadi said as investigations are still at an early stage, they could rule out the possibility.
He was optimistic that the fraud suspect would give them all details they need. “We expect him to continue cooperating with us and gives us names of other people if there are any,” Phadi.
Phadi further revealed that as part of their investigations, they would cast their net wider.
“We will also be looking at the manner in which the league distributes the tickets to see if there are any wrong doings with regard to the case we are investigating,” Phadi said.
Phadi further revealed that they will also reach out to the BPL’s designated ticket printers (PPCB), to check whether the tickets were counterfeit or original.
Acting BPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang confirmed the ongoing investigations but was reluctant to divulge anything further.
“This matter is still under investigation; I am not at liberty to divulge any matter to the press at this particular moment,” he said curtly.
While the BPL would like to keep a lid on information, it is alleged that the current fraud has been ongoing for at least three months, with high profile matches being the biggest targets of the fraudsters.
The scam is said to have hit teams very hard, more especially as they rely on gate takings to carry out their daily administration duties as well as to pay players.