Botswana’s drug fight has gone to the dogs
By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone – Botswana is faced with a rising drug problem, and law enforcement officers have turned to a trusted source – Labrador retriever dogs – to address the scourge.
The police have unleashed the dogs all over the streets of the capital as the crackdown on drugs intensifies.
Scores of people have been netted in an unrelenting operation, meant to rid Gaborone of illicit drugs, including marijuana.
The more than two-week blitz has netted drugs worth more than P2million and seen nearly 100 people arrested. In one raid, the police seized marijuana worth P1.8million.
Crime intelligence boss, Nunu Lesetedi, said the raids came after the realisation that crime had spiralled out of control in recent weeks, with brazen smash and grabs the order of the day in the city.
Residents were sleeping with one eye wide open as criminals took over the streets of Gaborone, he said.
In one week, the police recorded 27 cases of daylight smash and grabs. To underline the growing crime, in Peolwane, a suburb in Gaborone, the police were involved in a shoot-out with a gang of armed robbers during a morning raid last week, a rare occurrence in a city largely known for its peace.
Lesetedi told the local media that the police were concerned with the rising crime, hence the crackdown on drugs.
“We were concerned with the alarming rate of crime in general and in Gaborone, in particular. The youth are becoming violent and invade people’s homes day and night, without fear. We established that the majority of the suspects were involved in aggravated robbery, and they were brazen. When doing our assessment, we discovered that their fear had been taken away by something which is not alcohol alone but rather hard substance abuse,” Lesetedi said.
He said there is a cartel selling drugs and a huge market (for drugs) exists.
“This has challenged us not only to fight crime in general, but also target and establish the root cause of crime,” Lesetedi said.
“Drugs come into the country, mostly from Swaziland, South Africa and other foreign drug peddlers. Foreigners are working with locals, who are usually the distributors and consumers. Drug abuse is spiralling out of control in Botswana, which demands immediate attention from all stakeholders,” he said.
The police have turned to the Labrador retriever dog breeds to sniff out drug peddlers and the campaign has thus far paid dividends.
The presence of the black canines all over the city has a calming effect on the residents as the Labradors, described as intelligent and a friendly breed, get down to work.
“There is inconvenience on the roads when the police stop and search, but it’s for our own good. We appreciate what they are doing. Suddenly everyone is talking about these sniffer dogs which are helping rid the city of criminal elements,” a city resident, Naledi Setshego told The Southern Times.
The Labradors were trained by the Botswana police, who hail the breed as very effective in drug detection.