Botswana: Defence Ministry Delivers

Gaborone — The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, has delivered a number of projects despite challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updating the nation on the ministry's programmes and projects for the 2021/22 financial year, Minister Kagiso Mmusi said achievements included appointment of the Master of the High Court in December 2020 to oversee administration of deceased persons estates, manage minor beneficiaries benefits and oversee trusts registration and administration.

He said in an effort to address the disturbing escalation of gender based violence (GBV) cases nationwide, specialised courts had been established.

In addition, the chief justice issued a supporting directive indicating that all GBV cases should be treated as urgent applications and be given expedited management, set down and disposal, said Mr Mmusi.

The minister said at least 346 Zimbabwean refugees were voluntarily repatriated last year and a further 151 in March.

He said there were currently only 54 Zimbabwe nationals to be sent back to their homeland under an immigration arrangement.

On national peace and security, Minister Mmusi said emerging and evolving global security challenges called for the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to match up.

Giving the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, he said it required the sealing of borders by members of the BDF supported by other security organs.

Through coordination and collaboration with other government agencies, the BDF had been able to successfully provide assistance and support to civil authorities in COVID-19 operations, enforcing adherence to prescribed protocols, controlling movement of people, provision of quarantine and isolation facilities as well as medical personnel, said Mr Mmusi.

He said through the 2020-21 budget, government was able to make final payment on the P3.6 billion air defence systems and made part payment for infantry fighting vehicles costing P430 million.

Concerning private security, he said subsequent to the gazetting of the relevant regulations last year, the Private Security Services Act came into full effect and had allowed for introduction of new services.

A Private Security Licensing Board had also been established and was operational, he said.

Regarding Botswana Police Service (BPS), he said a child-friendly office for handling stress reactions experienced by children was being piloted at Broadhurst Police Station.

Noting that BPS contributed to road safety through law enforcement and public education, Mr Mmusi said such efforts contributed to a 28.9 per cent reduction in fatalities from 497 in 2019 to 325 last year.

Among completed BPS projects he mentioned Semolale Police Station with 26 staff houses, purchasing of 30 BHC houses in Palapye, New Xade Police Post and Etsha One Police Post

For Botswana Prisons Service, he said as at March 15, the number of prisoners stood at 3 835 representing a 4.7 per cent decrease from 4 026 in the same period last year.

"This decline was attributed to a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants and early release of prisoners through Presidential Pardon of the 9th April 2020 as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19," he said.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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