The influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe has been blamed for worsening crime in Botswana’s North East District (NED).
Botswana and Zimbabwe share a long border in the NED where the influx of illegal immigrants is said to be on the increase, some of them engaging in criminal activities.
Zimbabwe has struggled with a serious economic crisis for 15 years which has forced many locals to stream across the boarders to escape hardships back home.
Botswana and South Africa were the main destinations for the more than one million Zimbabweans who have left the country over the years.
With the economic crisis nowhere near easing, many still try to cross into Botswana on a daily basis, local authorities along the shared border say.
Kgosi Tapson Jackalas of Jackalas 1 village told a local publication that the Zimbabweans stream across the border for shopping and to look for job opportunities.
Some however, engage in criminal activities.
“For years, villages located along the border have been living in terror of cross-border criminals who steal people’s properties and take them into Zimbabwe,” Jackalas told a recent NED full council meeting.
District development officer, Onkokame Mafoko, said the influx of illegal immigrants was a huge worry in the district.
Mafoko revealed that some Batswana continue to help the illegal immigrants to get residence and work permits illegally in the country.
Local police chief, Superintendent Oratile Setswalo, said they are failing to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country.
“We do not know how they manage to cross into Botswana but when doing patrols within villages and in Francistown we always arrest them in high numbers,” said Setswalo.
He linked high crime rates in the area to illegal immigrants.
The police chief said over the period from April to June, they arrested 722 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe adding 300 of them were arraigned before customary courts while the rest were deported.
From July to September this year, 3,796 illegal immigrants were arrested, with 708 arraigned before the customary courts.
“Amongst that number 2,500 were fined money not less than P1,000 for admission of guilt with the rest being minors who were deported with their parents,” said Setswalo.