Botswana — Molepolole police station commander Supt. Andrew Bosilong has raised concern that residents of Monwane, Serinane, Mantshwabisi, Letlhakeng, Maanege and other surrounding lands are reluctant to help the police and other civil servants to extinguish veld fires that started last weekend. In an interview with BOPA Mr Bosilong revealed that only police officers and civil servants are fighting the fires alone whereas villagers are watching and are reluctant to assist.
Tshupologo Maswabi and Disang Rabasina watch helplessly as a veld fire spreads. People in the areas affected have fled their ploughing areas fearing for their lives. Photo: Tshoganetso MokoweSupt Bosilong wondered where they would graze their livestock as much of the grass and trees have been destroyed by fire. Members of Special Support Group (SSG), local police have been deployed to assist to quell the fires that are encroaching deeper into grazing lands. Supt Bosilong said they intend to put a strong fight in an effort to extinguish it provided members of the public also assist them. The police commander said his station has deployed a larger contingent of officers to areas affected, but was concerned that criminals take advantage of absence of police in the village hence high numbers of house breaking and other sorts of criminal activities. Supt Bosilong appealed to members of the public to help put out the fire as their animals would be the hardest hit. There are no reports of damage to property or human life lost, but field fencing poles have been destroyed.
However, Mr Bosilong disclosed that investigations are still going on and so far they did not know who actually caused the fire. In some of the areas BOPA visited villagers seemed not concerned, rather some were spotted drinking beer at shebeens while others said they were ill and therefore unfit to put out the fire. In an interview with some residents they disclosed that the area was infested with ticks and so they wanted to control them. Some said the rainy season is near and it is good to burn old grass and create space for the new grass during the first rains.