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MARRIAGE OF HELL

Yvonne Mooka

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Kesolofetse Njirayafa knows the pain of being stuck in a loveless marriage. She has been there before and now using her experience to encourage other women to leave before the worst happens.

The 47-year old Journalism lecturer at Limkokwing University is not shy to speak about her past marriage that nearly took her to the grave prematurely. Like other women, Njirayafa was happy when she met her prince charming at church. She was 27 and he was 33. “I was naive. He was my first boyfriend,” she tells The Midweek Sun. She is quick to state that the red-flags were there before they got married.

“He liked money so much and he would always borrow money from me that he never even returned. I was earning more than him. He worked in a bank and would force me to get bank loans saying he was going to clear his loans. And he’d always assure me that he was going to marry me,” she says. She also says that the man was controlling. “Before we got married, we were attending different churches. Their services finished before ours. He’d force me to leave mine early to meet him. I was never allowed to have friends with the reason that they’d find boyfriends for me,” she says, adding that she however went ahead and got married to him.

“He pointed my father’s gun at me”
Njirayafa, says that her marriage of three years was doomed from the start. Her husband, she says, would tell her that she should not dress elegantly because ‘married women should only look good for their husbands.’ Going against this instruction would lead to beatings. But again she says she was always reminded of how inadequate and ugly she was. She says that she was once beaten for refusing to take a mortgage loan. “He wanted me to register the house in his name, although I would be the one paying instalments. I refused and that didn’t sit well with him,” she says.

She recalls one day when they had visited her parents at Motokwe. Njirayafa says that she had trained herself to act a beautiful marriage, faking smiles in front of people, especially her family. When they arrived, her father, a hunter, shared with them that he was having issues with the gun license. Her ex-husband took it, assuring him that he was going to renew its payment. When they got back to Gaborone, he did exactly that. “We were given a new license and that now meant we could also buy new bullets and take it back to my father. I thought it was a good gesture from a son in law,” she says.

Then one day, she says, the man stormed in and accused her of cheating on him. It was at night. He took her to the outskirts of Gabane where he had intended to kill her. “He pointed the gun at me and told me it was the end of me. Fortunately, he had never used one before, therefore he didn’t know how to pull the trigger. I saw him insert the bullets but failed to fire them at me, which made him even more angry,” she says.

They would drive back to Gaborone. But first they stopped by a filling station where he got off the car, saying he was buying something. It was then that Njirayafa screamed for help, whereupon the petrol attendants blocked the car and called the police after hearing her story. He was arrested and locked in for two weeks. “After coming out of jail, we had a meeting with our elders and they reconciled us. However, the abuse didn’t stop,” she says. She says that she at one point ran to Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre (formerly, Kagisano Women’s Shelter). Her ex-husband, she says, went to the police to say he was sorry.

But still the abuse did not stop. As Christians, they had had several meetings with pastors who emphasised that ‘God hated divorce.’ As fate would have it, her ex-husband would one day go and report to an older pastor that she was having an affair. “He called us together with our other pastors. They heard our story and even when the other pastors emphasised that we should reconcile, the older man of God said that God also hates murder.

He also said my ex-husband was delusional as he could not give them evidence that I was cheating,” she says, adding that it was that same day that she went to court to apply for divorce. “It was another experience as he’d call me a bit** in front of lawyers. One of my lawyers even had a physical fight with him and beat him hard,” she says.
Njirayafa, who has since remarried, says that she stayed in an abusive marriage because she was afraid of the stigma attached to divorce. She says that she thought her ex-husband would change, something that never happened.

“I had lost myself in that marriage. It was a scam of a marriage. He was an opportunist who was also controlling and abusive in every sense of the word,” she says, urging women to leave abusive marriages. After her divorce came another life of heavy drinking and she stopped going to church. It was until she met her second husband that she got to taste the sweetness of marriage.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

The MidweekSun Admin

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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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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