An Ethiopian athlete absconded during the just ended Gaborone 2014 Africa Youth Games (AYG) and is believed to have fled to South Africa
THE Chairperson of the AYG, Regina Sikalesele-Vaka confirmed the incident of the missing Ethiopian athlete. Vaka said the athlete initially absconded on May 27 with one of his mates but they were caught at the border gate as they attempted to cross into South Africa. They were handed back to the their team officials who confiscated their passports.
However, the athlete fled again on May 29 and this time his attempt was successful. Vaka said there have been reports that the athlete was seen in Johannesburg. She added that this is a matter beyond their control and can only be handled by the Ethiopian Embassy. Vaka said if it was not because of the tight security, many athletes from different countries could have fled to neighbouring South Africa. She said athletes could have utilised Botswana’s close proximity to South Africa to flee to that country.
This is not the first time that Ethiopian athletes absconded when they were visiting Botswana on sport functions. A few years ago, two players from the Ethiopian national football team, also absconded after they played against Botswana. The two players were later caught by the Botswana authorities as they were trying to cross into South Africa. The footballers were later deported to their country.
Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operatations), Mathews Letsholo who was responsible for coordinating security at the games, confirmed the case of the Ethiopian athlete who absconded. However, he did not elaborate on the matter.
Meanwhile, Letsholo said the games were crime free because of the tight security waged by local security organs. Police and other security agents were visible at all the venues that hosted the games. Even the University of Botswana (UB) where the athletes village was located, was under tight security surveillance.
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