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‘Homosexuality is unAfrican’

Keletso Thobega

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The homosexual debate is a contentious issue that often leaves tempers flaring. And this was the case at the Gaborone High Court last week when a bench of three judges Abednego Tafa, Jennifer Dube and Micheal Leburu, listened to arguments in the landmark case as the gay community continues to fight for national recognition and for Botswana government to revise the Constitution and decriminalise section 164 and 167, which refers to same-sex as unnatural sexual acts.

Advocacy group LEGAGIBO with the support of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre is challenging Botswana laws on homosexuality. Advocate Sydney Pilane is representing Attorney General in the matter. After arriving late in court from an earlier engagement at Lobatse High Court, Pilane stirred controversy when he argued that homosexuality is unAfrican and does not correlate with the traditional values of Batswana. “As things stand, Botswana is being forced to abandon its moral values. The courts should be conservative and measured,” he said. He also said that there was also no substantial evidence to indicate that Batswana’s views on homosexuality had softened in the past years.

He cited the Kanane case of 2004 before the Court of Appeal, which indicated that Batswana were hardened against acceptance and tolerance of homosexuals, adding that Penal Code provisions could be revisited when the time was right. He argued that there is no substantial evidence to back claims that Batswana’s attitudes towards homosexuality have changed, and that there is also no evidence that gays have been discriminated against. Pilane, who had a tongue-in-cheek demeanour, asked what was so important about ‘sex’ that homosexuals could “not do it” without upsetting the laws, saying that they were conducting their affairs behind closed doors anyways.

Pilane, who appeared to find humour in the proceedings, also claimed that gays in Botswana were not harassed like in other countries and wondered if people should rush to courts for every small gripe. Much to the amusement of the audience, he illustrated that people had mocked him about the size of his head since he was a kid and even in adulthood, to the extent that some created social media memes out of him but he did not cry about it. He also stated that gays would still get HIV and not use condoms even if homosexuality was decriminalised, in reference to a Ministry of Health report that stipulated that gays did not receive access to open health care since homosexuality is illegal. Pilane further wondered whether legalising homosexuality indicated to the public that there was room to change the law to accommodate “unnatural behaviour,” rhetorically asking: “Should those who partake in bestiality (sleep with animals) also come here and demand that laws be changed to accommodate them?”

Tshiamo Rantao, representing LEGAGIBO shot down Pilane’s arguments and said that he (Pilane) was peddling his own personal views. Rantao said the AG failed to prove that there is no evidence to repeal the law. Rantao made reference to the Rammonge case and the Yogyakarta Principles, arguing that sexual orientation is a matter of feelings and not choice. He argued that there is overwhelming research that there is widespread violence against homosexuals in Botswana. Rantao said that the question should be what the law is doing in people’s bedrooms to the extent that it defines what is an acceptable or unnatural sexual act.

Meanwhile, Gosego Lekgowe, also representing LEGAGIBO noted that there should be determination of whether Section 164 violates Constitutional provisions, adding that government should ascertain what the crime is about being sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. He noted that the right to dignity and privacy are rights that the Court must consider, as they are fundamental to the case, adding that there is a need to protect homosexuals, who are a prejudiced minority.

In May last year, a gay man filed a petition with the Gaborone High Court, arguing that sections 164 and 167 are unconstitutional and impede on gay rights, their access to appropriate health care, and social security. Judgment in the matter will be handed down on 11 June 2019.

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Boko has failed his constituency – Mokgethi

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THROWING SALVO: Anna Mokgethi vows to turn around the fortunes of Gaborone Bonnington North

Botswana Democratic Party Parliamentary hopeful for Gaborone Bonnington North Annah Mokgethi says area Member of Parliament failed to utilise the P10million constituency Development Fund to develop the constituency.

Every year government allocates P10 million to each of the 57 constituencies for developments under the ministry of local government and rural development and councils coordinate the projects. Mokgethi told the media in Gaborone on Tuesday that UDC president who is also area MP, Duma Boko was supposed to have pushed for projects to be done in the constituency.“As we speak there is nothing but the constituency has been having an MP and councillors in the past five years. “Crime is high in the area because there are no streetlights in most of our roads. Our people are attacked under the cover of darkness. Our roads are still dusty but you take our neighbouring constituencies they have paved the roads using these funds.

“We are behind because our MP has neglected the constituency ever since he was voted into office. There is nothing that he can show as a development he advocated for under the fund,” she said.
Mokgethi, a lawyer by profession, will be launched this coming Sunday by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Since its inception in 2017 the fund has been marred by controversy as MPs argued that they are not being taken on board in the projects.Vice President Slumber Tsogwane who at the time was local government minister, said it was wrong for council secretaries to snub MPs when councils consult residents on developments to do with the fund.

Mokgethi told the media that representation is about service. She said she is willing to represent the people of Bonnington North. “The people of this constituency are yearning for representation. They need a representative who will have enough time on his/her hands to attend to their needs and interests. Someone who will have an ear inclined to their needs,” she stated.

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BEAUTY WITH STAINS

Keletso Thobega

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BEAUTIFUL BETRAYAL: Many did not believe Mhotsha could commit such a heinous crime

Broadhurst Magistrate Court came to a near standstill this past Friday when Lebogang Mhotsha appeared for mention on a conspiracy to robbery case.

Sporting a spiral braided hairstyle, the 30-year-old, who looked exhausted and agitated, turned heads with her pretty face with many in the crowd peering at her and commenting on how unfortunate it was for such a beautiful young woman to be implicated in a crime of such magnitude, where blood had been spilled.

There was a heavy presence of police officers, soldiers, DIS and members from Interpol in the court that was so packed that one had to take gulps of breath to avoid suffocating. All eyes were on Mhotsi, who unflinchingly stared ahead as the brief court proceedings got underway. Details presented before court are that Mhotsha of Mogoditshane is implicated in a conspiracy to robbery following the death of three Batswana men in South Africa on the 26 July 2019.

It is said that the victims were robbed of P350, 000, ten thousand US dollars and a Samsung J72 cell phone. The deceased men were part of a team of seven Batswana headed to Durban to purchase vehicles. They were attacked along the Swartruggens road in the North West area between Mafikeng and Rustenburg by six men who robbed them at gunpoint and made off with the money. The prosecutor in the case asked the court to give them an opportunity to complete their investigations, adding that they also want to engage Interpol to assist them.

Magistrate Tshepo Thedi remanded the accused in jail pending further investigation. Mhotsha will appear in court again on 22 August 2019 together with two other accused. Botswana and South African police jointly launched investigations into the matter to establish the circumstances that led to the incident. So far, preliminary investigations have revealed that the robbery was an act of conspiracy between the suspect, Mhotsha as well as local and South African associates.

The case gets more interesting as more accused come out of hiding. This past weekend a confession was extracted from two other suspects, Poloko Seduke and Kefilwe Ramoitoi both aged 38. The duo subsequently appeared before court on Monday facing the same charge of conspiracy to robbery. Although investigations are still ongoing to piece together the puzzles in this case, it is widely believed that the three accused are part of a bigger crime syndicate operating between Botswana and South Africa that targets Batswana who travel to Durban to buy cars.

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