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HOORAY FOR THE GAY

Keletso Thobega

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Botswana’s judicial system has proven to be progressive and upholds human rights, says attorney Tshiamo Rantao following yesterday’s Gaborone High Court landmark ruling that decriminalised same-sex relations.

He described the ruling as groundbreaking and a victory for Botswana adding that it was a brilliant and well-researched judgment. “Not single but three judges which is commendable. This means that members of the LGBT community who want to have sex should have it their way and there will be no peeping Thomases,” he said. He added that it was pleasing that the judgment dealt with all arguments for and against same-sex sexual relations. Court impugned decisions that criminalise same-sex sexual relations in the provision of consenting adults, he said.

Rantao, who was representing the applicants in the matter, explained that this ruling meant that same-sex relations were not criminal with immediate effect, however clarifying that it didn’t necessarily mean that same-sex couples could get married as yet. He said the issue before court was only in respect of same-sex sexual conduct and consenting adults in same-sex sexual relationships, adding that the issue of marriage between same-sex might come to court.

“This type of litigation is in public interest, and so we do not bring an avalanche of cases but bring building blocks and take it from there.” In the ruling, a bench of three judges, Michael Leburu, Abednego Tafa and Jennifer Dube following a three-hour judgment, repealed Sections 164 and, and 165 of the Penal Code, which they said were discriminatory to the gay community. The sections criminalised sexual conduct between two consenting adults who identified as homosexuals. The three judges served the unanimous ruling before a packed courtroom 8 and 9. The applicant in the matter, identified as LM, is a 24-year-old Literature student at University of Botswana. LM stated in his application that since he was 10-years-old, he had found that he did not find interest in activities of boys, which attracted ridicule to him and that when he reached puberty, he was attracted to other boys.

He further stated that when he was in his teens, he expressed love to a man for the first time. Since then he had dated men and was happy. LM stated that he was dating a man, who he had same-sex relations with, but the latter, in accordance with the Constitution, was considered criminal. In 2016, LM filed an application to the high court that challenged Section 164 and 165 of the Penal Code. The applicant argued in part that Section 164 is vague and must be struck down.

“There must be clarity and consistency in laws. Without such it lacks predictability. How did the law intend to police private matters?” The applicant was supported by LEGAGIBO, which was admitted as amicus curae (friend of the court) with the support of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. In the ruling yesterday, the judges stated that there is indirect discrimination on the applicant which is viewed as criminal. They said sections 164 and 165 are ultra vires the Constitution and that 167 must be severed from Section 167.

“Sex is not only for procreation – no longer sustainable view. Sodomy laws must be shelved. They must be placed in museums. Anal sex is a variety of sexual activity.”They also stated that it was difficult to regulate human interaction and that the laws infringe on human rights. They said that stipulations of section 164 and 165 violate several basic human rights, and the rights to dignity and privacy.

“Our constitution provides for protection for all and there is no place for discrimination in the world. It is not the right of the law to regulate affairs between consenting adults. If so, it is a violation of Constitutional rights.”Leburu, who read out the judgment on behalf of the three judges, said “we cannot use cultural rights to deny people their rights.

“Sexual acts do not according to us trigger any emotional issues with the public. It is a matter of privacy and consensual sex between LGBTI cannot be regulated “The state cannot place sheriffs in people’s bedrooms and subject individuals to degrading and inhumane treatment based on their sexual engagements.”

There were cheers and ululations from the crowd, with lots of hugs and kisses exchanged, as the gay community sighed with relief after a long journey. Chief Executive Officer of LEGAGIBO Anna Mmolai-Chalmers could not hide her joy and was almost in tears. In a brief interview, she said that she never imagined that this would happen in her lifetime. “This whole case has been a rollercoaster. We are relieved over the respectability of the judicial system. We are grateful to the community for their support.”

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Matsheka sues Bandleng mokoko 250k for defamation

Keletso Thobega

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Lobatse Member of Parliament aspirant Thapelo Matsheka has slapped Tefo Seetso of Woodhall in Lobatse with a P250, 000 lawsuit.

A few weeks ago, a video of Seetso tearing down posters bearing the picture of Matsheka at the Woodhall shops in Lobatse trended on social media. In the video, Seetso can be heard cussing what he refers to as corrupt politicians. The lawsuit letter, which this publication is in possession of, reads in part:

“Apart from the undoubtedly slanderous statement you uttered of and concerning him, taken within prevailing political atmosphere of election campaigning, the added import of your utterances is that our client: is corrupt, lacks moral fibre and is not fit to be elected member of parliament or to hold any public office.” The letter further states that Matsheka’s instructions are that his name has been smeared and that it would be almost impossible to repair the damage occasioned to him having regard to the wide coverage of the video clip.

“By the sheer size of Facebook subscribers both locally and internationally, and the prevailing election period during which particular attention to political campaigns and candidates is heightened, it is not hard to fathom the effect your slanderous actions have had and will continue to have on our client’s dignity as an ordinary member of the public and also as an aspirant to political office.”
The letter also stipulates that Seetso remove and delete the video clip from all social media platforms. He is also asked to publish an unconditional apology and retraction of the said defamatory recording.

In an interview Seetso told The Midweek Sun that he was still looking for a lawyer. He said he had torn down the posters and recorded the video “to get attention.” He said it was his freedom of expression. He also argued that he had not mentioned Matsheka’s name, who he said wanted to use him as a scapegoat, should he lose elections.

“The way things are, should he lose, he would claim that I contributed to his loss through defaming him as he claims. If at all he has a good name, then it would not be easily tarnished. He should just focus on his campaign,” he said.

He said he was still thinking about whether he would apologise or not. He also queried how Matsheka and his lawyers had reached the amount demanded. Seetso, who was once aligned with the BDP but was never a registered member, confirmed that he would be standing as an independent council candidate in Woodhall.

He said he had abandoned BDP because they were reluctant to register him. “I tried but failed. I think there are people within the party structures who saw me as a threat,” he said. Whatever the case, it is a punishable offence to destroy anyone’s political campaign material. IEC spokesperson Osupile Maroba, who said the Matsheka-Seetso case was the first of its kind, said anyone found guilty would dance to the music.

He made reference to the Electoral Act. He said if someone was reported to them, they would assist them and they would be handed over to the police who enforce laws. “If someone is incriminated in defacing political campaign material, they will be charged. As the IEC we do not enforce the laws but we are willing to assist with the procedure of bringing someone to book.” (Visit The Midweek Sun facebook page to see the video in question).

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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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