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Botswana irked by an increase of illegal immigrant influx

by Staff Reporter
30 Mar 2016 at 14:35hrs | Views
Botswana authorities have complained about the continuous influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe through the North East District (NED) of that country amid complainnts by villagers situated along the border.

Botswana Mmegi said the illegal immigrants  influx has irked authorities in the district, a development that they say has resulted in the increase of  cross-border crime.

Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officer in charge, detective assistant superintendent, Motlapele Maropamabe told that country's media that the influx of illegal immigrants in his policing area has been rising for many years and contributes to cross-border crime.

Botswana shares a long border line with Zimbabwe that stretches from Maitengwe to Bobonong villages, which Maropamabe said defeats their best patrol efforts.

Maropamabe said despite the para-military Special Support Group (SSG) patrols along the borderline, they still find it difficult to curb the problem.

"We do not know how they manage to cross into Botswana, but when we do patrols within villages in my policing district, we always arrest them in high numbers,"  Maropamabe was qouted as saying.

He said although they ensure that illegal immigrants are deported, desperate Zimbabweans continue to find their way back into the country.

Reports say in the past around 15 to 20 illegal immigrants were arrested on a daily basis on their way to Francistown in this policing area.

He said some of the illegal immigrants enter Botswana by cutting the fence, causing the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to use substantial amount of money to maintain it.

Maropamabe said after arresting the illegal immigrants they fine them amounts ranging from P100 and P5,000 or send them to customary courts to be flogged before they are deported.

Authorities blamed that as long as Zimbabwe's economy does not improve, there is a possibility that Botswana will continue to experience the influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe.

Maropamabe said for years, villages located along the border have been living in terror of cross-border criminals who steal their property and take them to Zimbabwe.

He said incidents of house breaking, burglary and stock theft are high, adding that criminals target electronic gadgets like expensive mobile phones, television sets and more.

He pleaded with Batswana to stop harbouring illegal immigrants in their homes and illegally hiring them at cattle posts.

"Some Batswana hire them and fail to pay them, which sometimes forces the illegal immigrants to pay themselves by selling the properties of their employers and in some dire situations causing harm to their employers," Maropamabe was quoted as saying.

In the past, President Ian Khama admitted that the problem of illegal immigrants remains a challenge and over the years, the government has deported over 36,000 illegal immigrants.

Khama said efforts by government to fine those who overstay in the country do not bear much fruit and forces government to spend over P2 million every year to repatriate illegal immigrants.

Tshesebe Village Development Committee (VDC) chairperson, Daniel Moipolai said efforts have been made to sensitise the community on harbouring illegal immigrants, especially that they are related to the people of Zimbabwe.

Source - Mmegi

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