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Knife, gun wielding criminals target kombis



Local public transport drivers and passengers are in trouble – they are being attacked daily by thieves in and outside the city of Gaborone, day and night – but especially at night. The situation has worsened to a point where the majority of kombi drivers have resorted to knocking off as early as 6pm to avoid being robbed. This has put the concerned public transport business owners out of business while their customers are often left stranded with nothing to transport them home after work, especially those knocking off after 6pm at Airport Junction Mall needing to travel south up to Game City Mall.

Information gathered from different police stations around Gaborone suggests that areas of Mogoditshane, Broadhurst, Extension 27, Block 7, White City and Old Naledi are hot spots for this new kind of crime where criminals have now resorted to targeting late night passengers in their entirety in a kombi. Random patrons who work till late at Airport Junction Mall have expressed frustration and fear for their lives as they are now at the mercy of cab drivers, some of whom are criminals themselves. “I work at a shop within Airport Junction but live in Block 9. I have been using Block 8 Route 4 kombis but lately they no longer leave the mall after 6pm. We are forced to pick random sedans that wait on the parking lot to take us home.

The problem is, instead of the P3.50 I would pay in the kombi to go home, I have to now part with P30.00 cab fee. “Even worse, some of these cab drivers are themselves crooks who on some occasions have driven a passenger in the bush to either rob or rape them. We just no longer know what to do,” Moseki Mmoniemang tells The Midweek Sun. She talks in pain of a colleague who worked at Spar Supermarket and was attacked and killed by criminals after work because she had to walk home with no kombis when she knocked off at night.

It’s a Catch-22 situation for those who knock off late – take an available kombi and run the risk of being attacked and robbed on the way, or take a cab that will cost an arm and a leg, and that is if one can also trust the driver to be legitimate. The Midweek Sun last week engaged separately with Block 8 Route 4 mini bus drivers at the Game City bus terminal. Their stories tell of a situation beyond redemption, seeing that they have all decided against driving once darkness has set in. Theirs is a route infamous for smash and grab incidents, hijackings and an array of armed robbery incidents.  

Their route begins from Game City then heads to Block 9 and passes through Block 5 up to the Grand Palm traffic lights intersection. The route will then lead to GIPS, Pula Spar, Ledumadumane and Block 7; then through Block 8, Block 10 and ends at Airport Junction Mall. It is when they travel back from Airport Junction to Game City at night that they see it all. Crime syndicates have now mastered the art of taking people’s possessions inside the kombis without a sweat. One criminal gets into the kombi at Airport Junction with other passengers; along the way, at a taxi stop around Block 7 or Pula Spar, he alerts the driver that he has reached his destination. When the driver stops, a gang will emerge from nowhere and at knife or gunpoint instruct the driver to just wait while they take passengers’ possessions from money to cellphones.

The drivers’ hearts are bleeding – they no longer feel safe, they fear for their lives and those of their passengers. They mention a taxi stop now commonly known as ‘The Slaughter House,’ – an area around Block 7 adjacent to some bushes of which the thieves take advantage.  One elderly driver on the route, Shimane Matebele of Moshupa is still reeling from the shock of nearly losing his life on the route. “I was stabbed and left with a deep cut on my right shoulder a month back. Two of my passengers suffered minor hand cuts when they tried to resist the advances of the thugs,”  Matebele shared his experience. He said the thieves had been sitting in his mini bus pretending to be normal customers, only for them to take out sharp knives and demand every valuable item from him and his customers. Failure to oblige to their commands resulted in a brutal assault; fortunately he managed to speed off even though they had taken all his money and also robbed all passengers.

Michael Malepa also shared that about 4 to 5 of their kombis have recently been attacked and the number is increasing weekly. Nevertheless, he raised concern that they are lacking protection from the local police, saying they are never there for the rescue. Malepa pleaded with the police to conduct patrols around the area especially in the evenings, saying the police are only found around the area in the mornings, which is not enough.Meanwhile, Isaac Lepang, also an Executive Committee Member of Broadhurst Route1 explained that they also go through hell, “I once hit another car while trying to run away from these gangsters,” said Lepang.

He explained that a terrified woman once begged him for his rescue as she was being chased by a middle-aged man holding a knife. The woman hopped into his kombi and was forced to react fast. He tried to flee but hit an oncoming car instead. Goemeone Kunoto also from Broadhurst said he has lost count of how many times he has seen men and women, the young and the old shed tears over their bags and expensive cell-phones. “It is very common here and we have now run out of ideas of how best to deal with the situation, some of them stand by the road and stop us just like any normal passenger. They get in, greet everybody and take whatever they have their eyes set on,” Kunoto lamented.

Kunoto also added that the mobsters can cause an unnecessary commotion in order to divert the attention of the passengers, while people are still processing the happenings, they rob them when totally off-guard. Meanwhile, Batswana are currently growing restless as criminals have seemingly grown horns and are also more arrogant. They are appealing to the authorities to up their game and make efforts to deal with such criminals. 

Sir Seretse Khama Airport police station commander Superintendent Banneetse Keatile this week confirmed the incidences in what is their policing area, adding that while they have made efforts to patrol the area, they are also awaiting city authorities to clear up the bushes around Block 7, where the said criminals hide. Superintendent Mothusi Phadi of Borakanelo police station also confirmed that they have similar cases in his station.

He explained that the crime trend is very common in Old Naledi, along the old Lobatse road intersection and in front of Delta which are areas in his jurisdiction. However, reports have been made that it is also rampant in Extension 27.He urged the community to always be on high alert when using public transport and report any suspicious behaviour they notice. The police authorities have also advised employers and employees that knock off late from their organisations to organize safe and trusted transport that could deliver them closer to their homes while efforts are being made to curb the rampant crime where criminals target them in kombis and cabs.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu



Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega



Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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