- Officials face career-ending charges
- Namibian police say Botswana is a comfortable conduit
- Police spokesperson says Interpol is investigating how the truck passed through unchecked
The International Criminal Police Organization- Interpol is investigating how forty one (41) bags of dagga worth close to P2 million managed to pass through Botswana border-gates undetected.
The investigations by the international crime busting body arose after Namibian police arrested a 46-year-old businessman who was found with one of the biggest consignments of cannabis ever recovered in the country.
The Namibian Deputy Commissioner, Edwin Kanguatjivi informed this publication in an interview yesterday that the suspect’s traveling documents shows that he passed through Botswana from South Africa, “we are wondering how he passed through Botswana but that is now a matter before Interpol,” he said, adding that it is their hope that the matter will be adequately addressed. The border-posts used by the suspects were Pioneer and Mohembo West.
Botswana Police spokesperson, Near Bagali advised The Botswana Gazette that the BPS have not yet received a notification from Interpol but said the matter would be investigated once it is on the table.
The seized truck had been contracted to transport poles for a popular building material shop in the North and was found with 41 bags of cannabis hidden under the poles. In each of the bags there were 100 parcels of dagga.
Immigration officials at the two boarder-post are said to be under scrutiny and if found to have played a part illicit cross border trade of the narcotic will be held accountable as accomplices or liable to be charged for several related crimes like taking bribes or corruption as is often the case in related operations or criminal activities, revealed the BPS. An accomplice is a person who becomes equally guilty in the crime of another by knowingly and voluntarily aiding the other to commit the offense.
The suspect, Pavo Hatutate (a Namibian national) was arraigned before the courts in Namibia yesterday where he was denied bail by Magistrate Letta Simon. He faces charges of contravening section of 2 of act 41 of 1971-dealing in Cannabis valued at P1 million 94 thousand. The suspect is charged along Nicodemus Shekunyenge (21 years old).
The duo were both denied bail on the grounds of the value of the narcotics involved and that they may interfere with investigations. The matter was postponed to March 8 2019.
In 2017, Seven men, six being Batswana and one foreigner from Swaziland were charged with felony after the police seized 18 bags full of dagga in their possession at Gaborone West industrial. Dagga possession remains illegal in Botswana whether for commercial or private use.
In South Africa, under the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992, people found in possession of more than 115 grams of dagga were presumed to be guilty of dealing but on 18 September 2018 the South African Constitutional Court decriminalized the use and cultivation of cannabis in a private space. The country is still awaiting parliament to amend the law.
Botswana Police Service Crime Intelligence Director and Senior Assistant Commissioner Nunu Lesetedi last year expressed worry that the South African Constitutional Court’s ruling to legalise marijuana will have a negative impact on Botswana’s fight against drug abuse. This was despite a revelation the Ministry of Health and Wellness Permanent Secretary Ruth Maphorisa who in the same year told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that they will consider use of dagga for medicinal purposes subject to parliamentary approval.
Recently, the opposition led a debate which sought to make a law which will legalise the medicinal use of marijuana but the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with its majority shot down the attempt