I was intrigued when a lady called claiming to be a drug dealer and wanted an interview but she will later postpone for more than three weeks.
After thinking that she was just playing tricks she would later call again and set an appointment and confessed that she is a drug dealer who is trying to reform.
“I wanted first to check if I can trust you because I don’t want to be in sh$%#t with my bosses,” she said pleading that her name must not be used in the interview.
Her smile betrayed the dark side that is hidden inside her from both physical and sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her bosses some which she reveals are well known public figures.
“Some of my clients are well known business people and politicians who don’t want to be seen buying their stuff anywhere so we deliver straight at their houses or at their drinking spots,” she said as her eyes were all over the place as if looking for a lost sewing needle.
Senwei* revealed some interesting insight inside the drug underworld and stated that it is real and the business is one of the most thriving in the country due to lapses in the national security.
“Firstly I was just a drug user from my days at secondary school but later entered into the business as drug wholesale pusher and transport drugs across the border especially from northern countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia to Botswana and South Africa and verse versa,” she said as she fiddles her fingers.
One of the reasons that she was chosen as a wholesale pusher is that drug lords are now looking at attractive girls who will not attract police attention during road blocks, the anxious looking 26 year old said.
“Gone are the days when drug dealers used to be guys with oversized pants and yellow teeth who will draw attention of law enforcers but t have moved to well-dressed pushers,” said Senwei* with a dim smile.
Drug dealing is regarded as dangerous jobs and most of the users and pushers are usually killed or arrested but according to the 26 year old Senwei, not in Botswana and other SADC countries which she regards as easy to operate in, market.
How drugs are transported across the SADC region
Most of the drugs that are said to be common within the SADC are dagga, cocaine, mandrax and coke but Senwei said that she only specializes in mandrax pills as they did not attract much attention compared to the other three.
Dagga is the most dangerous drug to transport as nowadays it is easy to identify and she reveals that most of the drug dealers who are arrested are dealing with dagga.
Most of the trips are taken either early in the morning or during midday and reveal that they mostly target times when police officers and immigration officers are relaxing or changing shifts.
We don’t normally transport illicit drugs during busy day like public holidays as that is when there are road blocks with stop and search, she said.
The most suitable season for them she notes is during rainy season or during winter as normally they are no officers at check points.
In extreme situations, she reveals that they hides the drugs in medicated pads and pretends that they are on menstrual periods.
“Most of the stop and search operations are carried out by male officers and they can’t search women at very private parts,” she said adding that normally they will smile at the offices who will be smitten.
She reveals that one of household item that they use to hide drugs when trafficking them it is the baby pampers and containers for children’s powder milk.
The other plus for drug pushers is that there are no sniffer dogs both at the border gates and at road blocks thus making their transit much easier.
The trickiest area in Botswana is the Sese gate where sometimes they are stop and search but according to Senwei they have a way of beating the security at the gate.
“We normally have an advanced car that will monitor the situation and one lady who trade at the gate who always update us if there any searching at the gate,” she said with a smile.
Not only are they dealing with drugs but also with money laundering as they carry lots of money especially rands and US Dollars after the sales.
“I can cross the border at Ramatlabana carrying more than US$ 10,000 and over P20, 000 stashed in my bags and on empty toddler milk containers,” she said.
In Botswana her clients are mostly based at the diamond mining town of Orapa, Francistown and the tourist town of Maun.
“Normally I drop the stuff once off in those towns and the market is lucrative as they buy in bulk and some of my clients are school going kids,” she revealed.
Though she admits that it is difficult to quit she is determined to leave the dangerous job and concentrate on her small business of selling clothes.
“We are sexually abused by the bosses who at any given time will just bump at your house and demand sex. And they are very violet sometimes for example if they can find you with another guy,” she said as she shows some bruises in her thigh and hands.
They are forced to attend sex parties which are normally organized in some of Gaborone’s leafy suburbs or in ranches outside Gaborone where they will be forcefully raped and in most cases without the use of protection,” she said as smile fades from her face and replaced by teary eyes.
Trying to hold back tears which could make any Gaborone residents envy of its flow, Senwebi reveals that currently she has two kids and is not sure who their fathers are.
Asked if she has tried to seek professional help she answered in negativity but was quick to say that her parents once sent her to rehabilitation in South Africa but didn’t make any difference.
“Rehabilitation mostly serve the opposite as it is where connections are made and though not something to celebrate about this is where I got most of the international connections,” she said.
Substance abuse counsellor at Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet) Lorato Koosaletse said that their focus is on rehabilitation and that the numbers of clients who seek help have increased over the years.
“We have different clients who ranges from 12 year olds to 60 year olds who are addicted to different drugs,” said Koosaletse.
The BOSASNet officer said they work with different organisations to deal with the issue of substance in Botswana.
According to police report dagga still remains the most abused illicit drug in Botswana due to its easy availability followed by cocaine.
Officer in charge diamond and Narcotics Squad (North) Detective Superintendent Justice Ntheetsang in an interview said that the main illicit drug in the north is dagga which gives them sleepless nights.
Last year from January to June of the same year they had 36 cases of dagga compared to 34 this year in the same period and he attributed this to the fact that they managed to arrest most of the drug pushers or suppliers.
“Most of them have now been convicted and are servicing prison terms and we suspect that other suppliers are still lying low,” said Detective Ntheetsang.
This year they managed to intercept 2.14 kilograms of dagga which was transported to the southern part of Botswana from Francistown and 68 Kg in one of the homes in the second city.
Another habit forming illicit drug currently being sold in the street is cocaine said the Diamond and Narcotics Squad officer adding that last year they arrested drug dealer with Ephedrine, a chemical used to manufacture mandrax pills and it was from South Africa destined for the northern part of the country.
He said that they have identified some hot spots were drugs are being sold and some of them include car washes, liquor bars and barber shops.
“We have sniffer dogs which are currently manned by the Special Support Group (SSG) and we normally use them during the stop, question and search operations,” said Ntheetsang.