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Fighting Firearms with…What Exactly?

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Firearm

There is another worrying trend rising with the crime epidemic – the use of guns by criminals.

For those of you that have not yet heard about the terrifying events that occurred on evening of July 29th at the Red Lantern restaurant in Broadhurst.
On that Friday night around 9 pm, during the height of the dinner rush, two men entered the restaurant carrying guns. They then proceeded to fire shots into the ceiling. Wallets, phones and jewelry were extracted from the patrons and cash from the register and the safe were stolen.
Lucky no one was hurt during this incident – not physically at least. One can only imagine the trauma of having a gun waved in your face – especially the children present.

This last weekend men broke into a house on the Phakalane Golf Estate threatening the residents with guns.

And there have been several incidents involving firearms reported over the last two months in Broadhurst. Clearly the criminals are stepping things up to the next level.

How can the police combat this? Although the police responded quickly to the Red Lantern incident, they arrived unarmed.
In fact it is rare to see an armed police officer in Botswana. How are the police going to combat criminals who clearly have more advanced weaponry than they do? Is it not irresponsible of the authorities expecting officers to put themselves in harms way with no real means to defend themselves? It’s naïve to believe that people will in fact do this – and it’s the victims of crime who suffer as a result. A policy rethink is urgently required.
The more important question is what are the police doing to curb this trend? Not to recover the bits and bobs of people’s belongings after the crime has been committed but to actively prevent such crimes from happening. Is that not their job?

The Botswana Government website (gov.bw) describes the police duties as follows:

“The Botswana Police Act, Cap 21:01 at section 6 (1) outlines the duties, functions and administration of the Botswana Police Service as follows:

The Service shall be employed in and throughout Botswana to protect life and property, prevent and detect crime, repress internal disturbances, maintain security and public tranquility, apprehend offenders, bring offenders to justice, duly enforce all written laws with which it is directly charged and generally maintain the peace.”

It’s all there – but at the moment not much of it is happening.