Be worried every time your child leaves for school; drug peddlers have moved camp to almost every school and are devising every means possible to turn students into junkies and traffickers to keep their trade roaring. PHILLIMON MMESO reports
Sources are adamant that drug cartels have infiltrated senior secondary schools, Universities and colleges and are using students as conduits for their deadly merchandise. This publication has now unearthed how the dealers lure, hook and exploit students.
Mooketsi (not his real name) said that for two years he has been part of a chain that trafficked drugs between Gaborone and Rustenburg in South Africa right under the noses of the police and immigration officials. The University of Botswana student said having a licence and being able to drive to South Africa worked wonders for him. He cleverly disguised as a hawker who traded in selling perfumes. Like in a movie, he was the perfect undercover agent and did his work diligently before he saw the dangers of the illicit trade last year. “They normally give us cars to take them for services in Rustenburg and that is where the consignment will be hidden in the car to then traffic to this side (Gaborone),” he said. To elude the law enforcers, the peddlers would call him through Whatssup and direct him to a particular place where handlers would meet him. “All we did was exchange bags (they were often similar) and voila, the strangers would melt away,” he revealed, adding that he would make two or three such drops every month. In some extreme scenarios, especially when their contacts at the border alert them to a stop and search, they will use their cell phones by dismembering it and carrying the parts apiece. So, the phone battery, casing, keypad and SIM card were separately hidden in Simba chips, blue band, cigarettes packets and other supplies. But when safely passed the road block the phone was reassembled back. If they are accompanied by the ladies, the drugs will be hidden in sanitary pads that they will put on. For the past two years he has been able to fool his parents that he was supplementing his allowance by working in a logistic company which has some business in South Africa.
P5000 a month
He said he was living large pocketing more than P5000 in a month excluding other allowances he gets when doing cross border trade. Asked which drugs he normally trafficked, the soft-spoken UB student revealed that mostly it was cocaine, ecstasy and Cat which is its scientific name is Methcathinone. At some point, he started using the drugs to gain approval of the cartel and to be regarded as trustworthy.
Business for high heeled
The cartel, according to Mooketsi, is mostly made of some Gaborone well-known business people who are using their legitimate businesses to launder the money from the illicit drugs. The drugs menace has taken a stranglehold in schools with peddlers exploiting this vast market, he revealed adding that most of their target are English medium schools where students have cash power. Typically, the cartels recruit a few students who in turn push the drugs to their fellow schoolmates with a cut on the profits or free supplies for their own use. The mostly supplied drug to secondary school students is ecstasy as it can easily be confused for some sweets or medical pills, said Mooketsi.
Botswana Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Witness Boseja said the use of drugs in the country, especially among the youth, is of great concern to them. “Most of the people arrested on drug charges are aged between 18 and 35 and this is disturbing,” he said, adding that they have declared war on drugs and are collaborating with other security agents to fight it. “We have officers at all our entry points whose duty is to stop and search. We have now deployed sniffing dogs and scanning machines,” he said. Boseja declined to state which border post is mostly used to smuggle drugs, saying that this will alert the peddlers.
10 to 15 people arrested weekly
Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi said they have made fighting illicit drugs their number one priority. They arrest 10 to 15 people for drugs every week. “Some of the drugs are hidden in petrol tanks. We recently arrested on peddler with P900 000 hidden in his car,” he revealed. Most of the drugs that are found in Botswana, according to Kgosi, are cocaine, cat and dagga which are mostly used by secondary school children. “It is really sad situation. We have recently arrested a medical doctor peddling in drugs, which shows how serious illicit drugs are in Botswana,” he said. The DISS boss said with the collaboration of the Police they have made strides in neutralizing a number of criminal syndicates involved in illicit drug trafficking.
Drug name Weight Year Number of people arrested Number of cases
Dagga 1053.422KG 2016 871 617
Dagga 248.835 KG Jan–Ma 2017 233 145
Methcathinone 1560.8273 KG 2016 42 4
Methcathinone 5.3946 Jan–Ma 2017 24 12
Cocaine 4313.7216 Grams 2016 26 21
Heroine 11796.5 Grams 2016 6 6
Ethedrine 16 Kg 2016 1
Ecstasy 10 pills 2017 1