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Dusty road a health hazard for Mogoditshane Block 9 residents

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Residents of Mogoditshane Block 5 have been battling against the dust problem that has become a health issue for well over a decade, with clouds of dust descending on their homes on a daily basis. Residents are concerned about the ‘wall of dust’ they are exposed to day and night, saying it is a threat to their health. “It has affected a lot of aspects of our homes, our lives, and our health,” Leungo Moeti said at her home.

On Moeti’s property, virtually everything is coated in a layer of dust. She said much of it comes from vehicles especially kombis that drive past at incredible speed, leaving in their trail billows of dust that blow throughout the neighbourhood. “It’s almost pointless trying to keep anything clean,” she said. Goabaone Munyamane lives down the road from Moeti and she said they have to clean dust daily and never even dream of opening windows. Both homeowners are worried about the potential health effects of breathing in the fine dust.

“It’s irritating to your eyes, your throat you see it on your counter tops, in your food. It’s on everything, it’s everywhere,” Munyamane said. Another resident, Tshepo Monageng, 32, who has been living in the area since the early ‘90s said they survive by drinking fresh milk daily in order to dilute the dust from their respiratory system. He said they sometimes go to the extent of asking for face and nose masks from the clinic in order to cover their faces and get through the day. He said the situation is at times worsened by ignorant drivers.

“They are always in a hurry, you hardly see a driver who is considerate around here, this huge cloud of dust has now become normal and a part of us,” he said. Street vendor Monyana Mmutle (34) lamented that she is failing to expand her business because of the situation at hand. “I wanted to expand and sell vegetables but nobody will buy them if they will always be covered in dust,” she said.

The situation is even more disheartening because her home is not very far from the road, her home furniture is always dusty and every-time she does laundry, she is forced to remove it from the line immediately after drying. She fears for her two-year old little boy, who at times does not respond well to the environment and coughs badly. “We fear for our children who are at the risk of falling ill due to the excessive dust.”

‘And that fear is not off the mark. “Prolonged exposure to dusty air may lead to lung cancer or interstitial lung disease (ILD),” General Practitioner at Lordland Medical Centre, Dr David Munsanje tells The Midweek Sun. ILD reduces the amount of oxygen in the body and can cause death, he says. “Both the toxic air and dust pollution can cause diseases like asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nasal allergy and rhinitis,” he says, adding two more diseases, silicosis and asbestosis, are also on the increase lately. Dr Munsanje said the dust clouds people see were not the real problem in terms of health. “It is the very small invisible dust particles that get deep inside the lungs.”

Efforts to verify increased cases of Tuberculosis (TB) at the nearby Nkoyaphiri clinic hit a snag as this publication was all week sent from pillar to post. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the clinic is inundated with people suffering from TB. It is feared that the dusty road may be causing this. Member of Parliament for Mogoditshane Sedirwa Kgoroba said he has long advised government that the road needs immediate attention but his pleas have hit a snag.“I even thought of organising a protest march but many felt that it would appear political, I long spoke to minister Slumber Tsogwane to come and address Mogoditshane residents but he has not responded yet,” he said.Nevertherless Kgoroba noted that the council has promised that by late this year, construction of a proper tarred road will begin in the area.

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Cops are not monsters – Matlapeng

Yvonne Mooka

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Crime becomes easier to fight when members of the society and the police work together, says Sejelo Police Station Commander Superintendent Mogomotsi Matlapeng.

“Police of today go to the people. We want them to see that we are not fighting them but fighting crime, hence we want to join hands with them,” said the police boss, who joined the police station this year in May from Broadhurst Police station in Gaborone.

He said that gone are the days when police officers were feared by members of the community. Supt. Matlapeng is likeable among members of his staff and the community of Kanye. He has won the hearts of many villagers in a short period of time because of his efforts to take the police station to the people.

Under him, Sejelo Police was awarded Station Community Policing award for this year by the Botswana Police Service. “We go to the people and address their issues. As a philosopher and a perfectionist myself, I believe that community policing is the way to go. “We go to schools and speak to teachers on certain issues relevant to the students. Our clusters also visit local wards to teach parents about pressing matters pertaining to crime,” he said.

Other than stock theft, the police station has recorded relatively low crime statistics. The station covers Kanye Kgosing ward, Moshana, Gasita and Selokolela.

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Murder convict, Masilo not going down without a “fight”

Keletso Thobega

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Thabo Masilo did not cringe when Judge Abednigo Tafa found him guilty of murder this past Thursday. Masilo stood erect staring ahead as if in a trance.

There was not a mutter in the courtroom when Justice Tafa stated that Masilo had intentionally murdered former St. Joseph’s College learner Tshepang Motlhabane on 16 November 2012 in Phase 4 Gaborone. In his ruling, Tafa argued that Masilo could not claim that he was acting in self defence when he had stabbed Tshepang three times. Masilo had through his lawyer Kgosi Ngakayagae insisted that Tshepang was his lover and he had stabbed her following an altercation because she had grabbed him by the balls when he had demanded his phone and P100 he had borrowed her.

Post mortem results show that Motlhabane had three wounds and died from a vein rupture. “If it was indeed self-defence, he would have not stabbed the deceased three times in different places. It is without a doubt that the accused had come to the house with the intention to commit an offence but faced with resistence from his victim, he decided to stab her,” said the judge.
He however dismissed the robbery charge.

It remains a mystery how Masilo gained entry into the property, which had a high wall and alarm system. Curious members of the public, relatives and friends of Tshepang as well as relatives of Masilo flocked Court Room 5 of Lobatse High Court for the ruling. The courtroom was so packed that some people sat at the back on the floor.

Masilo, who has lost a lot of weight, seemed to suffer a ‘leaky bladder’ as he went to the bathroom several times, escorted by prison officers. At one point during the long ruling, Masilo stopped proceedings, and through his lawyer Ngakayagae, complained that there were certain people in the courtroom taking pictures of him.

These people were seen by him only. The ruling that was read over nearly two hours painted a sad ending for the little girl who sustained wounds above the eye, on the chest and died a day after the attack. Tshepang is said to have at one point said to a nurse and relative: A lo boleletse mama gore ke a swa (Did you tell my mother that I am dying). Information provided by medical personnel indicates that she had lost a lot of blood.

Tafa read statements by 13 witnesses including Security System officers, police officers, a forensic expert, nurse, doctor, a relative and a photojournalist. All corroborated that the girl had been attacked and had locked herself in her bedroom from her assailant, who was much later found in hiding in the house. Masilo had claimed that he and the deceased were dating and he had loaned her P100 and his Nokia phone. However, when he visited her and asked that she return the money, a fight ensued and she held him by the testicles.

This, he claimed, led to him taking a kitchen knife and stabbing her in self-defence because she did not want to let go of him. Tafa said that this version of events was questionable and noted that only the accused and deceased were in the house at the said time and it would be difficult to determine exactly what had happened. He however said that there was no doubt that Masilo had killed Motlhabane.

He also noted that Masilo’s actions showed guilt as he had hidden in the ceiling of the house when he heard Security Systems personnel breaking into the house, and had also claimed to have drunk poison. He said if it was not his intention to kill Tshepang; he would have cooperated with the security officers and asked them to help Tshepang promptly.

Following the ruling, Masilo’s lawyer Ngakayagae asked for a date to be set for submissions on extenuation, saying that they would present three witnesses. The date was set to 7 February 2019 at the Gaborone High Court.

Masilo, who is already serving 15 years for robbery and rape, appears to come from a decent home. Many of his relatives were in court to offer moral support. His mother, who appeared agitated, has been by his side from day one. Considering that the family is paying one of the best lawyers in the country, it is safe to say that money is not a problem.

Although Masilo has already been found guilty, the fight appears to be for a more lenient sentence as he faces the hangman’s noose. Outside court, different camps spoke in hushed tones discussing the ruling. The mother of the late Tshepng looked sombre and frail. It is clear that the pain has not left her.

Shying away from flashing cameras and curious glances, she briefly said she was pleased Masilo had been found guilty but refused to comment further. An unidentified family representative chipped in that they were happy with the ruling. Quizzed on how they felt about Masilo she said: “We have forgiven him because we are Christians. But we are glad that justice will be served.”

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