Zimbabwean Illegal Immigrants residing in Tlokweng have unceremoniously expressed a huge concern on how some of the police officers in the village have turned them into their cow cash on regular basis and solicit money from them in order to keep them away of jail and deportation.
The victims who most of the time don’t have papers to be residing in Botswana are the main target of the police who according to the Zimbabwe national immigrants who spoke to this publication revealed that the police normally target them at entertainment places such bars and at their working sites where they do piece jobs most of the times.
Police officers mostly the Special Constables and some from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) demand large sums of money from the desperate Zimbabweans as a way of rescuing them from being arrested and facing possible detention back to Zimbabwe. The immigrants revealed that if they can be arrested and be detained before, the officers will target them and will then start to visit them in routine groups and demand cash so that they cannot be arrested again.
In an interview with one Zimbabwean national who preferred anonymity and fell prey to the desperate fast cash looking cops told this publication that he can be visited by two different groups of Police officers in a day and he can lose out P 300 to them as a way of keeping him safe from threats of being detained and to be deported.
A concerned immigrant further said “I spent most of the time in working sites where I am a builder around Tlokweng and these guys (cops) have the tendency of visiting me and my employees who are also the Zimbabweans and they will demand cash from us so that they don’t arrest and send u to Immigration depot for us to be deported. They are mostly Special Constables who do that accompanied by one or two CID Officer in some instances’’, He revealed.
Some of the victims who are also haunted by the Police looking for cash bribery noted that these officers do their business and actively well during the weekends by targeting them in bars and Chibuku selling depots will start to raid them and look for their permit papers and failure to produce them will mean two languages being ‘possible arrest or some fee of money’.
A Zimbabwean woman who operates fast food selling business by Eros and Speak Easy bars hinted that she has been forced to pay out in several times. She noted that she can end up going home empty handed with the money that she has made taken by the police who can come in three different groups in a single night. DShe said she has no option but give out the demand that the police want. “We the Zimbabweans we are the most targeted by the police and they associate us with the crime happening in the village. This tendency of them soliciting money we work hard for is worrying. They are making life difficult for us, we are not in this country by choice but because of some situations back home,” she said.
In an interview with Tlokweng Police Station Commander Unozi Barari who was cagey with information said although they are not aware of any incidents or reports to his office, he said they will investigate the issue and action will be taken against officers who are involved in such acts. He added that the duty of police officers is to arrest people who are believed to be illegal immigrants and take them to the police station for further investigations and not solicit bribes.