Corrupt BDF officer arrested in undercover sting claim witnesses
A corrupt BDF officer stationed at the Ramokgwebana border post was reportedly arrested last Friday afternoon for accepting bribes to fast track frustrated travellers through the lengthy queuing process.
Unconfirmed reports are that the officer took advantage of the chaos and extensive queues caused by teething problems over the use of recently installed computers to scan passports. Eyewitnesses reported seeing the soldier arrested after plain- clothes officers had discovered his activities.
Long queues at the Ramokgwebana border post are said to have presented a BDF officer with a moneymaking scheme to help travellers avoid delays of up to ten hours. The un-named officer, who was reportedly arrested last Friday, took advantage of the chaos caused as immigration officials experienced problems over using the new technology introduced to scan passports. Although no official comment has been obtained from the authorities concerned, eyewitnesses described how the officer took money from people in the queue to help them to the front of the line.
Travellers interviewed on Wednesday evening claimed to have witnessed the BDF man collecting bribes of between P100 and P150 in order to assist travellers jump the queue. “I was here (at the Ramokgwebana border post) on Friday morning around 7am. My intention was to get to Francistown and return the same day. But I had to spend a night in Francistown because I was only served around 5pm,” explained Maria Moyo, a middle-aged Zimbabwean woman.
“This guy in uniform approached me in the morning saying he could help, but I couldn’t afford to pay the bribe he wanted. Later that day I saw him being taken away by men in plain clothes. I later heard that he had been arrested,” she said.
Moyo, a seasoned cross border trader, added that she was shocked by the incident, believing that Botswana was much less corrupt than her neighbours. Another witness, who gave his name as Gerald Ndlovu, said that he had been working as an unofficial agent at the border for 15 years helping Zimbabweans with immigration formalities.
Ndlovu confirmed seeing the BDF officer collecting money from travellers. He said that it had become accepted practice when queues were long to bribe officers, and no one complained because the Ramokgwebana border post had turned into a breeding ground for corruption.
“This has been going on for a long time. Those with money do not queue at the border. Our attention was only attracted when we saw him being arrested. The little information we gathered after he was whisked away by a person said to be his senior in the military, is that he was arrested for corruption,” said Ndlovu.
He said the people who arrested the BDF officer are said to have conducted an undercover operation to nab him. Talking to The Voice on condition of anonymity, a petrol pump attendant at the filling station next to the Ramokgwebana border post also confirmed the incident, saying it had become the talk of the village. Tshesebe Police Station Commander, Superintended Aobakwe Mothibedi declined to comment over the allegations.
BDF Protocol and Public affairs officer Major Bernard Ragalase requested a questionnaire before he could comment on the alleged incident when contacted just before deadline.