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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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A welcome snitch

Yvonne Mooka

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CELLPHONE TRACKER: Tebogo Aaron says criminals have labelled him a snitch for helping the police track people’s stolen property

Tebogo Aaron works hand-in-hand with Botswana Police Service to track down missing and stolen cellphones.

In an interview with The Midweek Sun, the 38-year-old man from Mahalapye says that on average, he traces between 25 and 50 mobile phones per day. He runs a store called Gadgets + Collectables, with two branches in Airport Junction and Phakakane’s Acacia mall.

Even though he sells a variety of gadgets, among them cellphones, Bluetooth speakers, laptops, it is the business of cellphone tracking that has given him a niche in the market. The Business Management and IT graduate says that his cellphone tracking business makes him stand out. “We are now in the era of cellphones. Almost every person has a cellphone and again, people steal them at a high rate,” he says.

Aaron provides police with leads, allowing them to do recoveries. He helps people who come with a police affidavit. “I have attracted hate from thugs thinking I’m a snitch,” he laughs.
But how long does it take for him to track down a cellphone? He says that the gadget becomes traceable the moment a sim card gets inserted inside.

His observation is that people have a tendency of buying stolen gadgets something he says is risky as one ends up charged by the police for buying a stolen item.
“Thugs steal phones with the intention to sell them, not to keep them. They want fast cash,” he says. And he says that thieves would go to an extent of creating fake Facebook pages to sell their stolen cellphones.

“Immediately after selling them, they delete the social media accounts while the buyer is left with it. People must take precaution,” he says. One of the people who have benefited from Aaron’s service, Lerato Lepang says her phone and wallet were snatched from her on June 4 in Molepolole.

“I reported with the police. A week later I heard of Gadgets + Collectables and decided to give it a shot. I went to the store on July 13 with a police affidavit as well as my phone details.“Five days later I received a call from them saying they had details of someone who had my phone,” she says. Another person Masego Mokgwatlheng says Aaron managed to recover her phone after a month in June.

She had forgotten it in a cab and traces showed that the cab driver had sold it to a Zimbabwean man. “I am now using my phone. It was made easier because I had a police affidavit,” she says. In addition to cellphone tracking, Aaron also tracks lost or stolen pets, bicycles and luggage. He has five employees.

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Mixed reactions to Masisi’s law on home-operated businesses

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President Mokgweetsi Masisi intends to simplify the process of starting micro-businesses to make it less demanding. This entails retracting licenses for starting small businesses such as tuckshop, manicures and many others.

The Midweek Sun went out on the streets to hear views of the people about the new bill.A boutique owner based in Kanye Thapelo Dioka said it is a good initiative but he worries that Batswana will even set-up businesses which are not environmentally friendly.

“I have long struggled and been unable to rent out my spare bedrooms to try feed my family, due to stringent procedures of acquiring licenses,” said Dioka. Kolobetso Maswabi lamented that for a long time young people have been paying expensive rentals. The new law will help in starting and maintaining businesses as there will be no rentals to pay.

“For some of us who stay next to big malls the law will be an advantage, I am going to operate business in the backyard,” she says. However some had doubts about the new law, describing it as a campaign strategy and a desperate effort to gain political mileage. They will only believe it when it is signed into law.

“Why would he retract licenses when elections are about to take place and there is a need for them to explain more on what they mean about small scale businesses,” asked another entrepreneur.

Tiraone Basenyafela, an entrepreneur with disability who does leather works, lamented that they have long endured charges for licenses and at times failure to renew the licenses results in losing them.

“I believe that only big shops should be required to have licenses, not small businesses and struggling individuals like me,” said Basenyafela.

President Masisi explained that the new law intends to help Batswana improve their livelihoods and graduate from poverty, but added that licenses will still be required for those seeking to deal in food businesses and others that could be potentially unfriendly to the environment.

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