A war of words has erupted between the two Police Commissioners of the Botswana Police Services (BPS) and the Local Police Service (LPS) over the merging exercise, which was expected to resume on April 1 this year but was put on hold.
It is alleged that the BPS pointed out that some of the LPS officers have criminal records and this is said to have soured the process of the merging of the two services.
It is understood that some local police officers are considering taking the BPS to court because they feel that their rights are being trampled upon.
The Attorney General is reported to have advised the BPS that they should not treat local police as new recruits to avoid spoiling the whole exercise.
It is also understood that the Tribal Department is reluctant to assist the Local Police with resources, claiming that they should have long joined the BPS.
In a brief interview with the Sunday Standard on Friday evening, the Minister of Local Government, Ambrose Masalila, said that “no local police will be left behind, not even because of age”, adding that the merger was not meant for some to lose their jobs.
Masalila said that after the exercise is completed, the Local Police Act will be abolished because there will no longer be a Local Police Service.
The Minister added that there will be job opportunities once the whole exercise of merging is complete because Local Police officers were acting as court messengers but now his ministry would be compelled to hire court messengers for each kgotla throughout the country.
The Acting Commissioner of the Local Police, Godwin Tlhogo, said the orientation for some of the local police officers, which had been scheduled to commence some time this month had been suspended due to logistics problems.
He explained that about 93 officers from the rank of inspector to the high rank of Senior Superintendent were expected to resume their orientation at the Botswana Police College, while about 100 officers from the rank of sergeant to the last rank of constable were also expected to start their orientation at the Special Support Group, commonly known as SSG, but all that had been put on hold.
“My officers are purely not happy with the way they are being treated,” said Tlhogo, adding that they are being required to be finger printed which, he said, is unfair to them as local police officers.
He said before one can join Local Police, they are fingerprinted to check whether they have any criminal record and, if so, one can not be considered.
Tlhogo said they have about seven officers who are being interdicted from duty for now but said he did not know what will happen to them in the future, adding that those who have criminal records are those who where charged for common assaults, not for serious crimes.
“Secondly we are made to understand that Local Police officers who are above 55 years will not make it to BPS,” said Tlhogo, adding that age and fingerprinting were never part of the agenda and that those two issues had seriously demoralized the officers.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Thebeyame Tsimako, said Local Police Officers should be fingerprinted because it had emerged that some of them have criminal records, which will automatically disqualify them from joining the BPS, adding that before joining the police, one has to be clean.
Tsimako said that those officers who are over 55 years of age will not be part of the BPS.
“We want energetic officers,” he declared.
He said people must bear in mind that this is a process, not an event.
However, some local police officers who refused to be named threatened to take the BPS to court.
Efforts to contact the Minister of Justice, Defense and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse, were futile.