President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi yesterday joined members of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) and the nation to celebrate achievements made in the organisation’s 135-year history.
Yesterday marked the Botswana Police Service’s 135th Anniversary. The country celebrates Botswana Police Day annually with a programme of festivities that includes a police parade, tug of war, traditional dance, Mapantsola dance, live music and an air display, among others.
President Masisi awarded medals to members of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) for their outstanding service and conduct in police duties. The awards ceremony was held at the SSG Parade grounds in Gaborone, while the BPS celebrations took place at the national stadium. He was accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi who also awarded some medals. Both the president and the First Lady attended the BPS festivities at the national stadium.
Botswana Police Service – how far it’s come in its 135 years of existence
The BPS of today has evolved from three forces namely Bechuanaland Mounted Police of 1884, the 1885 Bechuanaland Border Police and Bechuanaland Protectorate Police of 1902. With the attainment of independence in 1966, the name changed to Botswana Police Force until the organisation was rebranded Botswana Police Service (BPS) in 1997. In an interview with BOPA this week, on the sidelines of intensive rehearsals for this year’s celebrations, BPS Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube said Police Day (as the annual celebrations are popularly known in Botswana) has become a key event in the BPS calendar as it celebrates and marks key milestones.
“We are proud of our history having started with a group of 100 men to what you see now. The BPS growing from two divisions, North and South to five now, and the recent introduction of the North West division and a total of 17 policing districts,” said Mr Motube.
In 2011, the BPS introduced 60 days of action on crime and road safety campaign aimed at reducing crime and improving road safety during the last two months of each year. Motube said the BPS had energised its policing strategies and initiatives with remarkable projects such as the famed Kgomo-khumo operation, which he said had made positive strides since its launch last year. The sting anti livestock theft operation has led to numerous arrests with many cases still pending countrywide.
The BPS of today has evolved from three forces namely Bechuanaland Mounted Police of 1884, the 1885 Bechuanaland Border Police and Bechuanaland Protectorate Police of 1902. Some of BPS’ recent successes include the introduction of the Forensic Science Services and the Cybercrime branches. To boost their rapid response capability as well as to assist in policing inaccessible terrains, the BPS introduced the Air Support Branch in 2009.
Another initiative is the specialised dog unit dubbed the K9 Section, a fully-fledged regiment comprising a variety of sniffer dogs, among them the iconic Julius, affectionately known as Boots. Boots has been a marvel to watch in action and has earned himself hordes of fans for busting local drug cartels on local broadcaster Btv. The section is managed by the Special Support Group (SSG), the BPS’ paramilitary arm responsible for, among others, giving support to stations and providing anti-poaching services. Yet another achievement is the state-of-the-art Botswana Police College which relocated from the Village suburb of Gaborone in 2001 to the foothills of the legendary Lentswe La Baratani Hill in Otse.
Botswana Police Service timeline
According to BPS records, in 1885 Lieutenant Colonel Fredrick Carrington was appointed the first commissioner of the then Bechuanaland Border Police.
The BPS, then the Bechuanaland Mounted Police, was built on the strength of 100 men. When
Lieutenant Colonel Fredrick Carrington took over as commissioner a year later, the police force was renamed Bechuanaland Border Police. The force had grown fivefold to 500 men.
In 1971, Simon Hirschfeld was appointed the first Motswana police commissioner, with the late Mompati Merafhe as his deputy. Hirschfeld retired in 1995 after serving 24 consecutive years.
Apart from Mr Hirschfeld, four other Batswana have since served as police commissioners namely Messrs Norman Moleboge (1995-2004), Edwin Batshu (2004-2007), Thebeyame Tsimako (2007-2012) and the incumbent Keabetswe Makgophe, who assumed the position in August 2012.
In 1997, the Botswana Police Force once again changed its name to the current Botswana Police Service which marked a major transformation embracing the organisation’s new vision, mission, values and corporate goals.
The first cohort of eight women was recruited into the police force in 1971. The eight were Cynthia Keakantswe, Sylvia Muzila, Ednah Gilika, Kgomotso Mosimanyana, Didimalang Koronomio, Vivian Mhaladi, Audry Busang and Annah Matshego.
Since then, the number of women joining the BPS has risen with each intake. On 1st September 2017, Ms Dinah Marathe became the first female Deputy Commissioner of Police.
The 2009 merger of the BPS with the Botswana Local Police is another milestone which gave birth to an integrated police service. In 2017, the BPS was ranked first in Africa and 47th in the world by the World Internal Security and Police Index.