With his high-spirited smile and infectious laughter, it is hard for one to wrap their mind around the fact that Loago Bagopi is suffering from a terminal affliction.The 21-year old native of Sefophe is suffering from a painful and rare genetic disease called Gaucher Disease (GD) but he is determined to live the best life he possibly can while he still has it.
GD is a rare inherited disorder caused by the body’s inability to make an enzyme, glucocerebrosidase, which breaks down fatty substances in the body. This leads to build up of these substances in many tissues of the body, including the bones, organs, and bone marrow.
The disease affects vital organs, and symptoms include developmental delay, seizures, dementia, blindness, enlarged liver and spleen, pulmonary and cardiac problems and bones that grow abnormally.
The disease is named after the French physician Philippe Gaucher, who originally described it in 1882.Bagopi’s health problem started when he was six years old and as he grew up and became an adolescent, the disease grew with him.
“I was very thin with a swollen tummy and I had to give up playing one of my favorite sports in the world, football, because my legs hurt.I was always tired and even if I had a small bump I would bleed excessively,” he explains.
The pains were not only in his knees, but also in the femur, hips, and back. His health problems became more frequent and aggressive and also meant he could be in bed for up to two months at a time.
With all that, Bagopi still managed to get a grade B for his junior secondary school leaving examinations, but unfortunately couldn’t go on with school because of his health problems.
It was only when he was 17 that he was finally diagnosed with Gaucher. He is one of the three confirmed cases of GD in the country.
“It was confusing for me that I was constantly going to doctors, constantly getting MRIs, x-rays, density scans,” recalled Bagopi. “I didn’t know what to look forward to”.
Once Bagopi was diagnosed with GD, the family received another shock.
There was nothing that doctors could do for him because the treatment is so expensive. At a cost of about P104 000 every two weeks, this condemns patients with rare diseases like Bagopi to a death sentence, according to Consultant Pediatrician at Princess Marina Hospital, Dr Joel Dipesalema.
“Cost of treatment is high because demand for medicines is low, and companies have to charge higher prices to recover cost,” he explained. Even more frustrating, he said, is the time patients take before they can be diagnosed.
Dr Dipesalema, explains, “A lot of patients are misdiagnosed and they go from one specialty to another, sometimes for years and even decades while they suffer from disabling complications of their disease.
It causes a tremendous sense of isolation and chronic pain, disability and loss of quality of life. So there is a huge burden of suffering that the patients experience on their path to having the correct diagnosis. The worst thing is not to know. Knowing what’s wrong, you have conquered more than half the battle.”
There are no specialized labs essential for diagnosis of most rare diseases in Africa and so all diagnosis are done in Europe. He said Gaucher disease occurs in three different forms, referred to as types 1, 2, and 3. Type 1, which Bagopi suffers from, is the most common form, accounting for 90% of known cases.
A delay in diagnosis or lack of treatment leaves the patient at risk of irreversible damage, which Dr Dipesalema said eventually leads to loss of body function and a painful death.Some of the biggest challenges when living with Gaucher, Bagopi said, include continuous fatigue.
“The pain comes and goes and sometimes makes it impossible to get out of bed, but the fatigue is always there and it is also immobilizing at times. A lot of times I’m just too tired to do anything. There is something about this type of being tired that is painful. It makes life impossible,” he said.
And then there are the constant stares he gets from the public every time he leaves the house because of his big stomach.“At one point I became really shy and didn’t want to mingle with anyone who was not family”. But he is over that now because, “being alive is too precious to waste it on obsessing what people think and say about you!”
With his eyes focused on enjoying his life the best way he can, Bagopi hopes that by sharing his story, other people battling the debilitating illnesses would be inspired to not focus on their negative circumstances and live their best lives.
The arrest of founding Head of Directorate of Intelligence and Securty Services (DISS), Isaac Kgosi at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA) Tuesday night adds a new twist in the ominously dangerous local political climate.
Kgosi was arrested in the airport lobby as he pushed his luggage trolley immediately on arrival from South Africa yesterday night by DISS agents led by the new spy boss, Peter Magosi.
He was then handed what appeared to be an arrest warrant, which he read before being handcuffed amidst protestations that the DISS had invited the Press to embarrass him in a public spectacle.
After a brief spell Kgosi succumbed and was whisked away to Mogositshane Police Station where he would be read his charges. He was overheard telling Magosi he was going to “topple this government, I promise you,” a threat which in law constitutes treason.
At the time of writing, Kgosi’s lawyer Unoda Mack and one of Kgosi’s close relatives were said to be at the airport. The arrest happened on the fifth day of President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi’s private visit to his Mozambican colleague, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi. Masisi is due to arrive home today Wednesday January 16th.
Kgosi’s arrest is bound to exacerbate the rift between President Dr. Masisi and his predecessor, Dr. Ian Khama. Their feud – initially over a perceived refusal of the state to avail Khama air travel for his personal and official chores – broke irretrievably when Masisi fired Isaac Kgosi from the public service.To make matters worse, Masisi also declined Khama’s overtures to hire Kgosi as his Private Secretary. Parallel to this feuding, the state was busy investigating corruption and money laundering charges against Kgosi and his alleged involvement in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal.
Kgosi was appointed by Khama during the latter’s presidency. He is not only a close personal friend of Khama but also worked with him at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). A renowned sniper (marksman), Kgosi’s DISS was the embodiment of fear.
The spy agency was described as a law unto itself and despised for eavesdropping on people’s conversations and alleged acts of terror including extra-judicial killings. His arrest and possible prosecution during an election year signals the state’s unflinching commitment to instil the rule of law and restore public confidence in oversight institutions.However, this could provoke a long drawn-out battle between the antagonistic factionsof the ruling Botswana Democratic Party – the pro-Khama New Jerusalem and pro-Masisi Cava – with the sum effect of compromising public service delivery. It is no secret Kgosi is on the side of Khama, and that Khama depends on Kgosi for his exploits.
Yet again, the arrest is the administrtaion’s unambigous message that it has thrown down the gauntlet for the perceived purveyors of corruption to take up. It remains to be seen how Kgosi will react. He allegedly told Magosi Tuesday night, “You are forcing me to do things I never intended to do,” what these things are, is known only to him. However, on the political front there is general foreboding that feeds the lust of doomsday prophets.
The country’s eminent citizens among them the thrid president, Festus Mogae as well as former Vice Presiddent Ponatshego Kedikilwe and property magnate, David Magang have joined the fray on the side of President Masisi in the protracted Khama/Masisi impasse. And just like at the height of the legal brawl between the State and former Debswana boss, Louis Nchindo – Mogae will not harbour any secrets – not least concerning Khama’s ill-fated succession plan and Masisi’s role in it.
Suddenly, the internal power struggle in the BDP has become a national security threat and a cancer that threatens to eat away the gains made in the country’s 53 year history as a democracy.
Conversely, it has emboldened others and awakened the allure of contestation in former minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to challenge Masisi for the party’s presidency at this year’s July national congress, which thing, some watchers dismiss as “absurd” while other pundits, such as foreign minister Unity Dow, see Mma Venson as a decoy or proxy for Khama’s grand comeback to the presidency.
Khama has however denied attempts at pulling a ‘Putin”- that is, returning to the presidency after his constitutional term has expired.
Just as the Sybilline Oracle warned the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar about the Ides of March, the BDP was forewarned by a Zambian ‘seer’or prophet; long ago about its eventual collapse, which is eerily becoming imminent with the passage of time.
Some may say, the Botswana Democratic Party made its bed when it recruited Khama into politics from the military and must now lie on it. But the reality is that the Khama/Masisi feud risks tearing the county asunder. A Tswana dictum counsels that there can be no two bulls in a kraal at the same time, and in like manner, there can be no two presidents in a republic or two centres of power. This is the warning that all the eminent BDP leaders have sounded to the nation and the party.
President Dr. Masisi stirred the hornet’s nest and rattled the interest of white monopoly capital last year when at the height of the elephant poaching scandal, that made international headlines, he disamrmed the Wildlife Protection Unit.
He also had the audacity to set up a plebiscite to gauge the people’s views regarding the ban on wildlife hunting, which had been a permanent feature of the past adminstration. The disarming of the Unit particularly carried a sting with Khama, himself an avowed conservationist and distinguished fellow of Conservation International. And all these actions that seem to go against the wishes of Khama and his loyalists, threaten to plunge the country into a state of disrepair, for they will not take the latest arrest lying down. Khama will surely react, and the nation should be on the alert.
Woman raped by another woman in BMW
A woman can rape another woman in Botswana. This was recently brought to light by one of the victims as the debate about the escalating and shocking rape cases that continue to grip the nation.
Most often attention is always on incidents where men rape men or men rape women, but while it is something that is happening, a woman raping a woman is somewhat seen as taboo. Model and businesswoman Julie Juice Tsile recently found the courage to talk about her harrowing experience at the hands of a trusted member of society, who also happens to be married. In a post shared on January 9th on Facebook, Tsile narrated how the perpetrator is a married woman, someone’s mother, and a mutual friend to some. It all started when the woman whom she refers to as Goaba asked her to accompany her to collect something from the car.
The two were attending an event with friends. “I had just met her through a friend. So, if a married woman asks you to go to the car with her, you can never think of anything right, you somehow feel safe right,” she says in the post.
Things took a different turn when they arrived at the car.
Goaba asked her to get inside the car, which she did unaware that her companion had an ulterior motive. She admits that on the day, she had been drinking but was not drunk, and that the car was parked in the car park area. After all, she could see the security people not far from where they were.
Tsile also notes that in her head, she was thinking that the woman was asking her to get inside the car just to be safe. “So, I closed the door and sat on the passenger seat,” says Tsile.And that is when everything changed. Goaba kissed her on the lips, and she didn’t resist. “So, I just brushed it off thinking gore (sic) ah it’s just a kiss, women can be curious,” states Tsile. After this Tsile told Goaba that she has to go look for her friends because she had left without telling them where she was going. But this was only the beginning of her horror. Her perpetrator grabbed her hand and pulled her panty down. Tsile was wearing a short dress and Goaba started poking her genitals with her long nails.
All this time, Goaba did not say anything but she had an evil look on her face while doing it. “I was shocked, I honestly didn’t move, I froze because my mind could not digest what was happening. I then managed to push her away, opened the car and I just stood there in shock,” she explains. A security guy who was near them came towards her and asked her if they were fighting. At that point
Tsile started crying and sharing how she was raped by the woman in the white BMW.
“He was shocked, he then approached the car but the woman fled.So he called another security car to ask him to block the lady at the gate, so they started asking me to repeat the story. The other guy started laughing, until he saw blood running between my legs,” she says.Tsile has not forgotten what the woman who drives a white BMW, and is married to a white man known only as Paul did to her. “You took a piece of me from that day on,” she says.
She says she did not report at the time because she was scared and was just starting out with her business. She also wondered how her family and friends were going to react to the incident. “Lastly repeating the story, being laughed at, being asked to explain how a woman can rape you, all those things I couldn’t deal with or that I asked for it. So, beware of this woman, she is your friend, your sister probably your mother but she took away a piece of me and I hope she doesn’t do the same to any other woman out there,” she concludes her story.
The post attracted a lot of attention, and another victim came forward to share how a neighbour also did the same thing to her. Tsile told this newspaper that the matter has been reported to Central Police Station, and that she did not want to jeopardise the case. However, Head of Central Police Station (CPS) Superintendent Mothusi Phadi informed this publication that they have not received any report of this nature.
But he said that their doors were open to Tsile, and that she was welcome to come and report the matter. He assured the complainant that they would talk to her in private, and that they would treat the matter with the utmost confidentiality. “She is welcome to come and see me anytime,” he said.
Human Rights Lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi told this publication that he has heard stories of women raping other women although they have never been tested before the courts of law. He said the law in Botswana provides for rape between people of the same sex.
Woman raped by another woman in BMW
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