Oriel International School hall was fi lled to capacity last week when Segoditshane Councilor Ephraim Mabengano called a Kgotla meeting with the Maruapula community. The main issue was crime and littering especially around the Maruapula Shopping Complex and the contentious presence of Zoom Nightclub in the neighbourhood. Accusations and counter-accusations were exchanged among stakeholders with no one prepared to accept responsibility. The business community blamed the club owner for the pungent smell and litter in the area whilst the club owner pointed an accusing fi nger at informal traders. The hawkers in turn accused the Police for fail-ing to maintain law and order.
Mabengano said since Grand West club in Gaborone West burnt down, night crawlers have taken refuge at Zoom night club situated at Maruapula shopping complex. This situation according to the Botswana Congress Party councilor has turned the complex into a crucible of crime and other social ills. His sentiments were shared by businesspeople in the area and the general public who decry a stench caused by revelers who have turned the place into a urinal, urinating even on shop windows. They said people are robbed of their belongings, killed and raped in the vicinity. Mabengano said he and the business community wrote to the city council calling for the closure of the night club as it makes doing business and residing around the area unbearable.
He said the business community also threatened that if the club is not shut down, they will leave the complex to do business elsewhere. Commenting on the issue, Gaborone City Council (GCC) Deputy Town Clerk Lebuile Israel said they have received pleas from people to revoke the club’s license. However, Israel said as they were still trying to fi gure out how to go about the issue when the club owner approached them and requested that all informal traders outside his club be kicked out as they are the source of all social ills in the area. “He said trouble makers outside the club are attracted by people who sell food, cigarettes and alcohol by the parking lot,” Israel explained.
The deputy town clerk said they called a meeting with the informal traders and agreed that they stop trading with immediate effect to allow them to assess what the real cause of the problem is. He said if the problem persists, they will consider revoking the license. For his part, Inspector Boemo Bok of Central Police Station confi rmed that since the closure of Grand West, criminal activities around Maruapula shopping complex have been on the rise. He accused residents of abetting crime by not reporting it. He also stated that it was not an easy task to control the delinquent youth as they sometimes throw stones at them when they try to disperse them. Concerned residents who spoke to blamed the police for crime in the area.
They said Police offi cers in uniform buy marijuana and alcohol from criminals right in front of them. A resident who identifi ed himself as Spyder said their customers are now afraid to use the complex because they are attacked. He also said while trying to help someone who was stabbed with a knife at the complex recently, his brand new car was smashed by the criminals. He requested that soldiers be called to assist as the Police who have confessed to him that they are scared of the criminals. One Kedibonye Changate who sells food around the complex slammed the Police for being inactive saying all they do is buy drugs from the same criminals who snatch people’s belongings. The Area Member of Parliament Dumelang Saleshando promised that all relevant stakeholders will be called for a meeting to discuss the issue and come up with a solution that will benefi t all.