Patrols along borderlines have been intensified to control illegal entry into the country as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19, says Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs minister Ms Anna Mokgethi.
She said the management and patrol involved members of both Botswana Police Service and Botswana Defence Force.
In an interview with Radio Botswana yesterday, she said entry at ungazetted points was a concern and therefore a major threat to the country’s efforts of containing the spread of the virus.
She said in an effort to cut costs and ease congestion at police holding cells and centre for illegal immigrants, arrested foreigners trying to gain access into the country through ungazetted points were immediately repatriated.
The minister stressed that in an endeavour to control cross border movement, only citizens and residents of Botswana were allowed entry.
“We will only allow entry to returning residents and truck drivers delivering goods and services,” she said.
Minister Mokgethi also observed that movement at points of entry was mostly departures of foreigners going back home.
She said 98 per cent of incoming travellers were truck drivers from various countries delivering goods to Botswana while others were on transit.
Truck drivers, she explained, were excluded from the 14-day mandatory quarantine.
“Truck drivers have a different protocol, they work in collaboration with transport and police officials to ensure that they do not interact with the locals to curb any possible spread of the coronavirus, she said.
On other issues, Ms Mokgethi said provision of some services, among them processing of national identity cards, birth certificates, change of name and registration certificates, had been minimised to ease congestion.
“I would like to reassure those whose Omang cards expire effective March 30 and going forward that they will not be penalised and they will be notified of any developments in due course,” she said.
Ms Mokgethi, however, said issuance of death certificates would not be suspended while residence and work permits would also be renewed.
She appealed to members of the public to reduce visits to departments under her ministry, as only emergency cases would be attended to.
Frontline employees would be provided with gloves, masks and sanitisers, she said.
The minister further encouraged members of the public to improve their hygiene practices.
“I appeal to Batswana to take health messages seriously,” said Ms Mokgethi.