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HAIL TO THEE MAX

Keikantse Lesemela

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Former President Dr Festus Mogae has commended the founding member and Chairperson of Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), Professor Max Essex for his commitment to rescue the African continent from HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Professor Essex came to Botswana in 1996 when the country was hard hit by the HIV/AIDS disease. He partnered with the Ministry of Health to form the Botswana Harvard Aids Institute Partnership.

He guided the country through Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), which led to a decline of the infection rate from 40 percent to the current one percent. Speaking during the farewell ceremony last Thursday, Dr Mogae highlighted that the African continent was seriously affected by HIV and many people were dying every single day. “Botswana was seriously affected by HIV/AIDS and I went around looking for help and Professor Essex and his collaborators from Harvard came to rescue our country,” he said.

He said through Essex research many lives are saved and many Batswana have been trained in the field. “We now have our children and our own scientists and doctors in this field. “I want to thank Essex for his support to our country because what he has done to us has saved the whole world. I acknowledge all his team because our people have survived from HIV/AIDS,” said Mogae. According to the Global Information and Education on HIV and AIDS report, Botswana is still one of the countries most affected by HIV in the world, despite its provision of universal free antiretroviral treatment to all people living with HIV.

Statistics recorded in 2017 indicates that 380 000 people are living with HIV. “At 21.9 percent Botswana has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world, after Lesotho and eSwatini. In 2005, prevalence stood at 25.4 percent suggesting some signs of improvement over the last decade,” reads the report.

BHP official Rodger Shapiro said BHP has now become more than just the premier HIV research site in Africa as many young scientists have been and are being trained.“We have become part of the larger community in Botswana and we have made lifelong friendships with that community and with each other. “Substantial and long-lasting capacity has been built in doing high quality, ethical science that is dedicated to improving the health of the people of Botswana and elsewhere. All of this too was part of Professor Max’s plan,” said Shapiro.

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He was shot!

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The family of Rakops Chief Letang Segaise is convinced that high-ranking officials are behind his gruesome murder.The family has vowed that it will not rest until justice is served. Segaise was laid to rest last week after his burnt body and car were found in the bush a few kilometres away from the village.

The chief had been missing for more than 40 days. “Of course we know who is responsible (for the heinous crime) it’s just that we do not have enough evidence to prove it but this was a well-orchestrated plan by big names with flourishing bank accounts,” said an angry family member who preferred anonymity.They believe that the killer is well prepared and has covered his or her tracks well to reduce chances of ever getting caught.

They say people were hired to do the dirty job and that the “big guns” behind the murder are watching quietly from high places while “we waste our breath screaming for justice.”
This week Segaise’s family accused the government system of failing them. A member told The Midweek Sun that they have long asked the Police to grant them permission to go on a peaceful protest against ritual killings in the village but are being sent from pillar to post.

They said they went to the police for the permit only to be told that they should seek help from the District Commissioner, who allegedly sent them back to Police.Rakops station commander Thito Freeman said he advised the woman who called him that they have never heard of a family wanting to demonstrate because they would not know how to classify them.

“Permits are obtained here and it is normally organisations or unions but a family is a first and I do not know where to place them in the eyes of the law,” he said.vThe family member said the family is now scared to publicly air their opinions because it is proving extremely hard to reason with the government. “How can we reason with them when they do not want to listen, we are nobodies to think we can take on the mighty government.

“They will easily squash us and airing our views here on newspapers is angering them,” they said. The family shared that they have received a half baked report that indicates that Segaise was shot with a gun on his left ribcage. They suspect that the criminals who killed their father were aiming for his heart. The family is now struggling to come to terms with what happened to one of their own, whom they described as a departed hero, The family member said acts of people disappearing without a trace in the village have become commonplace, but nothing is being done about them.
It is for these reasons that they wish to unite the community with a peaceful demonstration.

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‘I have lost a pillar’

Yvonne Mooka

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HAPPIER TIMES: The late Roda with Rorisang

Rorisang Matlhaku – boyfriend to the late Rodah Putsini Kegontse – says she was an ever-smiling girl who loved giving people advice and was always there for them whenever they were experiencing challenges.

Kegontse, 19, took her own life two days after Independence holidays inside Matlhaku’s house in Ramotswa. In an interview with The Midweek Sun this week, he narrated the painful ordeal.
“She had travelled to her home village of Kanye for Independence. She surprised me by coming back to me after two days.

“There was an entertainment event which we both attended with friends,” he said. Around midnight, she asked to be dropped off at Matlhaku’s house, where he said he would join her a bit later.
Matlhaku stated that around 2am, he asked his younger sister who was with him at the event, to go and drop him off at his place. “As I passed by the bathroom, I noticed the bathtub was full of water and I thought my girlfriend had probably just finished bathing.

“When I entered the bedroom, I saw her lifeless body hanging inside the wardrobe and I quickly called my sister to drive back to my place,” he said. Matlhaku, 27, said that she had no clue what could have led his girlfriend to take her own life as she was likeable and jovial. “She was the most loving person I had ever met. She put me first before everything. When I asked her why at that age she loved me that much, she would say it was embedded in her. She even quit alcohol saying it wasn’t right that she was drinking while I wasn’t,” he said,

He said they started dating this year March. But again, he said Kegontse exhibited signs of depression. She would tell him that she used to burst into tears while in class while at secondary school becaue she felt at the time that her spirit was not well or that nobody liked her.

“She felt she wasn’t beautiful enough, that she was worthless and that people were always mocking her about her weight loss, but I always assured her that I loved her with my whole heart,” he said.
He described her as a simple person and a God-fearing young woman. “Whenever I came to her with my problems, she would advise me like a mature person, leaving me feeling better.

“She even joked that I should pay her because I had turned her into my business advisor. She used to call me every morning saying I should wake up and go and work for Basmati rice and not pap, saying we should aim higher and work for expensive things. She was my pillar,” said the man who runs a horticulture business.
Kegontse was buried this past Saturday in Kanye.

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