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Right candidate for the crown

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Once she was crowned the opinions started to rage. Social media was alight with both negative and positive, but mainly negative comments. The gripe was that she was not black enough or she did not represent the Motswana woman; her critics went as far as wanting her to be substituted with either the first or second princesses.

Difficult as it was, the mature 19-year-old from Mmadinare village did her best to focus on her task at hand and leave the naysayers aside. “People spoke about different issues including the colour of my skin not being dark enough for the crown. I was very sad. My initial thoughts were that I am not being accepted. I had to quickly change my attitude and realise that people will always talk. I will never be the number one for everyone. I chose to focus on thinking that I am the right candidate for the crown.”

The beautiful and friendly Mabengano had to develop a thick skin quite early in life. The bombardment of negativity from her critics only served to make her stronger. She reveals that her mother passed away when she only 14 years, she has since been raised by her aunts and uncles. She also has an older brother who is now 23-years-old.

“There was a time when I was young and my mother was the only thing I had. I then lost her and learnt a lot- most importantly to depend on myself, and not on other people.” Mabengano is aware that everything happens for a reason and has since accepted her loss.

“I have people who have played their role in my life since my mother passed on and I would not be here without them – my aunts and uncles.” On the night she was crowned all her loved ones were there and she is happy she made them proud.

Being genuine and original is something that she prides herself in. “I like to say ‘be original and don’t repeat legacies’. Sometimes when you look at people you see a little bit of Beyonce or Rihanna. You have to be you at all times.” The pretty face has had to suspend her Design Studies until 2017, when her year of reign ends. Her project for the ‘beauty with a purpose theme’ is called, ‘They need us’.

She started the project after a visit to Princess Marina Hospital where she had discussions with social workers who explained that there are abandoned children in the hospital who have no home to go to due to poverty.

“The project ‘They need us’ aims to nurture and protect these children who are underprivileged, sick and abandoned. We want to bridge the gap between social workers and the community. We will aim to give emotional support to the children; play, talk and mobilise resources for them to help with food, clothes and housing. I hope the next beauty queen will also take it over.”  

Despite the backlash after her crowning, Mabengano is adamant that she would have still entered, that she has no regrets. “I have always wanted to be an influential woman and I saw Miss Botswana as providing the first step to this goal. Miss Botswana is actually not about me, it is about what I can do for the people of Botswana. What I will bring to the table.”

Missosology.org, a pageant site also ran with the story of the backlash Miss Botswana received based on the social online commentary by Batswana. In conclusion the article’s writer stated that, ‘Unfortunately, racism though goes both ways. If the European nations are hailed for crowning dark skinned women, why do fair skinned women get bashed in most of the African nations? If we expect that being black should not impede victory, why should being white be fair? But what Botswana should do in the future is to clearly define the criteria so that they can fully justify the winner regardless whether she’s black, white, yellow or green skinned for that matter.

This is the 21st century. Haven’t we learned enough from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that we shouldn’t be judged by the colour of our skin but by the content of our character?’

Tshepo Maphanyane, the event organiser says they will continue to host the pageant and to meet all the international requirements set. “I am hesitant to comment about the criticism from Batswana. We have set standards we must meet, based on how Miss World operates. All I can humbly emphasise is that people should seek clarity and information to gain a better understanding before criticising.” Maphanyane explains that they are more motivated than ever to host the next Miss Botswana.

The idea is that the public must be involved with the pageant from the starting phases of the competition, when they skim down the contestants. “We are very ambitious about the next pageant but we need a lot of support from the public, starting with the auditions to the end of the competition.

Everyone should know that they have a role to play because after all this country and this beauty queen representative is ours, together. Whether we win or lose at the Miss World pageant we are in this together.” Maphanyane urges the public to take ownership of the pageant because without the public support the pageant will be not run. “We need the support of the public to run the pageant. Lastly we need financial support we cannot be able to run this project without finances.”

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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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