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Knife, gun wielding criminals target kombis

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Local public transport drivers and passengers are in trouble – they are being attacked daily by thieves in and outside the city of Gaborone, day and night – but especially at night. The situation has worsened to a point where the majority of kombi drivers have resorted to knocking off as early as 6pm to avoid being robbed. This has put the concerned public transport business owners out of business while their customers are often left stranded with nothing to transport them home after work, especially those knocking off after 6pm at Airport Junction Mall needing to travel south up to Game City Mall.

Information gathered from different police stations around Gaborone suggests that areas of Mogoditshane, Broadhurst, Extension 27, Block 7, White City and Old Naledi are hot spots for this new kind of crime where criminals have now resorted to targeting late night passengers in their entirety in a kombi. Random patrons who work till late at Airport Junction Mall have expressed frustration and fear for their lives as they are now at the mercy of cab drivers, some of whom are criminals themselves. “I work at a shop within Airport Junction but live in Block 9. I have been using Block 8 Route 4 kombis but lately they no longer leave the mall after 6pm. We are forced to pick random sedans that wait on the parking lot to take us home.

The problem is, instead of the P3.50 I would pay in the kombi to go home, I have to now part with P30.00 cab fee. “Even worse, some of these cab drivers are themselves crooks who on some occasions have driven a passenger in the bush to either rob or rape them. We just no longer know what to do,” Moseki Mmoniemang tells The Midweek Sun. She talks in pain of a colleague who worked at Spar Supermarket and was attacked and killed by criminals after work because she had to walk home with no kombis when she knocked off at night.

It’s a Catch-22 situation for those who knock off late – take an available kombi and run the risk of being attacked and robbed on the way, or take a cab that will cost an arm and a leg, and that is if one can also trust the driver to be legitimate. The Midweek Sun last week engaged separately with Block 8 Route 4 mini bus drivers at the Game City bus terminal. Their stories tell of a situation beyond redemption, seeing that they have all decided against driving once darkness has set in. Theirs is a route infamous for smash and grab incidents, hijackings and an array of armed robbery incidents.  

Their route begins from Game City then heads to Block 9 and passes through Block 5 up to the Grand Palm traffic lights intersection. The route will then lead to GIPS, Pula Spar, Ledumadumane and Block 7; then through Block 8, Block 10 and ends at Airport Junction Mall. It is when they travel back from Airport Junction to Game City at night that they see it all. Crime syndicates have now mastered the art of taking people’s possessions inside the kombis without a sweat. One criminal gets into the kombi at Airport Junction with other passengers; along the way, at a taxi stop around Block 7 or Pula Spar, he alerts the driver that he has reached his destination. When the driver stops, a gang will emerge from nowhere and at knife or gunpoint instruct the driver to just wait while they take passengers’ possessions from money to cellphones.

The drivers’ hearts are bleeding – they no longer feel safe, they fear for their lives and those of their passengers. They mention a taxi stop now commonly known as ‘The Slaughter House,’ – an area around Block 7 adjacent to some bushes of which the thieves take advantage.  One elderly driver on the route, Shimane Matebele of Moshupa is still reeling from the shock of nearly losing his life on the route. “I was stabbed and left with a deep cut on my right shoulder a month back. Two of my passengers suffered minor hand cuts when they tried to resist the advances of the thugs,”  Matebele shared his experience. He said the thieves had been sitting in his mini bus pretending to be normal customers, only for them to take out sharp knives and demand every valuable item from him and his customers. Failure to oblige to their commands resulted in a brutal assault; fortunately he managed to speed off even though they had taken all his money and also robbed all passengers.

Michael Malepa also shared that about 4 to 5 of their kombis have recently been attacked and the number is increasing weekly. Nevertheless, he raised concern that they are lacking protection from the local police, saying they are never there for the rescue. Malepa pleaded with the police to conduct patrols around the area especially in the evenings, saying the police are only found around the area in the mornings, which is not enough.Meanwhile, Isaac Lepang, also an Executive Committee Member of Broadhurst Route1 explained that they also go through hell, “I once hit another car while trying to run away from these gangsters,” said Lepang.

He explained that a terrified woman once begged him for his rescue as she was being chased by a middle-aged man holding a knife. The woman hopped into his kombi and was forced to react fast. He tried to flee but hit an oncoming car instead. Goemeone Kunoto also from Broadhurst said he has lost count of how many times he has seen men and women, the young and the old shed tears over their bags and expensive cell-phones. “It is very common here and we have now run out of ideas of how best to deal with the situation, some of them stand by the road and stop us just like any normal passenger. They get in, greet everybody and take whatever they have their eyes set on,” Kunoto lamented.

Kunoto also added that the mobsters can cause an unnecessary commotion in order to divert the attention of the passengers, while people are still processing the happenings, they rob them when totally off-guard. Meanwhile, Batswana are currently growing restless as criminals have seemingly grown horns and are also more arrogant. They are appealing to the authorities to up their game and make efforts to deal with such criminals. 

Sir Seretse Khama Airport police station commander Superintendent Banneetse Keatile this week confirmed the incidences in what is their policing area, adding that while they have made efforts to patrol the area, they are also awaiting city authorities to clear up the bushes around Block 7, where the said criminals hide. Superintendent Mothusi Phadi of Borakanelo police station also confirmed that they have similar cases in his station.

He explained that the crime trend is very common in Old Naledi, along the old Lobatse road intersection and in front of Delta which are areas in his jurisdiction. However, reports have been made that it is also rampant in Extension 27.He urged the community to always be on high alert when using public transport and report any suspicious behaviour they notice. The police authorities have also advised employers and employees that knock off late from their organisations to organize safe and trusted transport that could deliver them closer to their homes while efforts are being made to curb the rampant crime where criminals target them in kombis and cabs.

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VACANCY: President of the UDC

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Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Advocate Sidney Pilane says Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) does not have a President.

He revealed this week that UDC leader, Advocate Duma Boko was given the leadership of the coalition on a temporary arrangement. Advocate Pilane who was addressing the media this week, following the expulsion of his party from the UDC stated that in the buildup to 2014 general elections it was agreed that Advocate Boko should be presidential candidate for UDC, an arrangement that ended at the time when the UDC lost the 2014 general elections.

“It was decided that Botswana National Front (BNF) should be given the presidency so that Advocate Boko could be our presidential candidate. The late Gomolemo Motswaledi of BMD was to be his running mate. We made this arrangement in preparation to taking over state power.

So, all that has passed, we contested and lost so it is all in the past,” said the BMD leader. He stated that constitutionally, the UDC has no president because the president has to be elected during the UDC elective congress. Advocate Pilane pointed out that UDC according to the Constitution should hold its congress every three (3) years.

He stated that even all the members of UDC National Executive Committee have to be elected at the congress and as it stands, “there is no president or Vice Presidents because they were not voted into those positions.”

Advocate Pilane said instead of building the UDC brand their colleagues at Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front have resorted to petty issues. He told the media that the leadership of the two parties have taught their members to insult BMD leadership and its members on social media and any other forum.

He had no kind words for the BCP, calling the party a divisive party that thrives on insults and divisive tendencies. He said the BCP leadership had encouraged its foot soldiers to use social media to insult him and members of the BMD.

According to Advocate Pilane, these are some of the things that have made the two parties remain in opposition for far too long without even coming close to toppling the ruling party. He described them as dishonest people who will plunge the country into chaos and that is why Batswana do not want to give them power.

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VIDEO: A Gaborone hotel Prophet caught in the act

Yvonne Mooka

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In a matter that closely resembles that of a South African Cabinet Minister, Melusi Gigaba’s masturbating video clip, a visiting Zimbabwean Prophet, Ronald El Melchizedek of Altar of Grace this week denied that he has been sending nudes to church sisters and demanding same from them.

In fact, the ‘man of God’ has earned himself the name, ‘Botswana’s Omotoso’ by girls that allege he has sexually exploited them. Pastor Timothy Omotoso is a Nigerian clergyman accused of sexually exploiting over 30 young girls from his church in South Africa.

“He is an Omotoso and even though they hide it at his church, some of us have received messages from him asking for our nudes. Actually, he has asked for my nudes several times,” says one church sister.

The Midweek Sun has gotten hold of a 34 seconds video clip of the youthful prophet playing with his manhood. Looking like he is in a hotel room, the man stands fully naked in a muted video that, depicts him speaking and teasing the recipient. In a standing position, he starts off by caressing his manhood, giving it a close up and ends up lying on the bed, facing up.

At least three young women say they received the video from the prophet and that he usually asks for nudes from them. One of them actually says he has been pestering her, demanding to have sex with her. “He likes to send me messages of how horny he is for me. But again, he likes asking for nudes from women.

Even married women at his church have fallen victims of his sexual harassment. I left the church because he disgusted me by doing such things yet calling himself a man of God,” she says.

The woman however says that Melchizedek, a Zimbabwean who holds services at Gaborone Hotel when he is in the country, is a man of accurate prophecies. “He moves mightily in the prophetic but he likes harassing church sisters. It is known in his church. He is married but controlled by the spirit of lust,” she says.

The Prophet responds
Melchidezek told The Midweek Sun that he was aware of the video of him doing the rounds through WhatsApp, but was quick to label the whole thing a scam.“Yes we are aware. Those are scammers from Benin who hacked into my wife’s Facebook account and phone and stole our videos and pictures. So they wanted to blackmail us and we refused, that is why they are doing that.

It is just an effort to harm the work of God but God is in control,” he told The Midweek Sun. He would not be drawn into responding to, or even discussing the allegations levelled against him by church sisters, but instead gave this reporter a mobile number of a person he said was his wife.

The said woman confirmed that the video was posted by scammers. “That was done by scammers. We have reported them to Benin police,” she said. She however would not give the name of the police station nor go into further details.

This incident follows on last week’s revelations reported by this publication, where several girls spoke anonymously about pastors, prophets and ‘men of God’who were using them sexually in church. Many were uncomfortable to reveal their names, forcing this paper to also conceal the identies of the accused churches and pastors involved in the dirty acts in the name of God.

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