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‘I was raped at 15’

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Thato Matshaba, an assistant accountant with one of the local companies says that she had been suicidal because of the rape that she suffered in 2005 when she was doing Form 2.

She was only 15 when her cousins in Serowe asked her to tag along when they went to a pub. She says that the cousins are older than her and that she did not worry much that anything bad could happen to her. When they got there, her cousins started mingling with friends. Then a gentleman, whom she says was around five years older than her, came to chat her up. “When we left the pub, he insisted on taking us half way to our house and walk behind my cousins with me, until they were out of sight. He told me he loved me. I knew nothing about love or sex. He then told me that I was going to spend the night at his house, which I refused,” she says.

Matshaba 26, says that the unthinkable happened: The man slapped her hard telling her that she should not disrespect him. She says the man covered her mouth and dragged her to his house, threatening that he was going to kill her if she over dared scream. When they got there, she says he forced himself inside of her several times, and told her that she would only go to her house in the morning.

“That’s how I lost my virginity. The guy wasn’t even using a condom. I was numb,” she recalls. Matshaba says that she went home in the morning where she could not stop crying. “I felt so ashamed and blamed myself for everything that happened. I blamed myself for going out with my cousins. I decided to keep it to myself because I was afraid of being judged,” she says, adding that she was also scared of falling pregnant. “I had heard stories of how drinking strong coffee could terminate unwanted pregnancy. I drank it and somehow I didn’t miss my period,” she says.

Being raped affected me Matshaba says that after the incident began a life of rebellion and promiscuity. She says that she started disrespecting her teachers, which also affected her grades.
“I started dating older men, as I found relief in them. But I realise I was just using them because I wasn’t even enjoying the sex. I couldn’t connect with anyone. Deep down I hated men because of what happened. I was full of pain and bitterness,” she says, adding that she was feeling worthless and did not believe in herself.

The Botho University AAT and CIMA graduate says that she met a loving and God-fearing man along the way, who somehow changed the way she viewed men. They have a child together.
She started coming out about her past ordeal this year and she wants to use it to encourage other women who may be in the same situation. She also says that she was diagnosed with post-natal depression and started counselling. “I want to help others who may have gone through what I went through. They are not alone,” she says.

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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JUST PROPAGANDA

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Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has refuted claims that she is under the radar of the Financial Intelligence Agency. Dr Venson-Moitoi who pulled out of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential race at the eleventh hour, was last week reported to have had her accounts frozen because she was being investigated by FIA.

It was alleged that the freezing of the accounts would have a negative bearing on her campaign as she could not access her funds. Responding to enquiries on the issue during a media briefing in Kang Village, Dr Venson-Moitoi said the allegations were far from the truth.

According to the former cabinet minister, all her accounts were clean and she was accessing her funds without any challenge. “The person who was saying all those things was lying. My accounts are clean as we speak. I was never confronted by FIA or anyone. As far as I know I am not under any investigations,” she said.

Linked to that, it had emerged that Dr Venson-Moitoi’s campaign was being funded from outside the country especially by the some rich families in South Africa. Reports then suggested that her source of funding was blocked through the intervention of FIA, and that even her accounts were frozen. She dismissed the reports as propaganda that was perhaps spread to soil her campaign.

“I am clean. This is why I am never mentioned in missing funds from National Petroleum Fund or those of Capital Management Botswana,” said the Serowe South Member of Parliament. Last month Dr Venson-Moitoi had reported to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General Peter Magosi that she was not happy that she is being followed around the country by security agents.

Magosi dismissed the claims on grounds that his organisation is not the only one that uses private motor vehicles.

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