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Soldiers, cops assault residents – claim

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Mochudi Police are investigating complaints of assault leveled against a group of soldiers and police officers who were on duty during the festive holidays. Two of the alleged victims who are still reeling from the shock of violence meted out on them are Sipho Kgakole (21), a third year student at the University of Botswana and his friend Thato Nthaga (21) a first year student at Maun Technical College, who were beaten black and blue by the uniformed men.

According to Kgakole, on Saturday, 2 January 2016, his friend Nthaga was walking him halfway at around 11pm after a visit, when a police van approached them. Two police officers and three soldiers jumped off and demanded to know where they were going.

“Thato told them that he was walking me home. They asked us to raise our hands and searched us. We didn’t resist. One of them poked and hit me with a baton in the stomach saying that I had not raised my hands high enough. Thato asked him why he had to do that and requested that they let us go since they had not found anything incriminating on us. The officers said he was cheeky and started harassing him, demanding that he should do press-ups as punishment.”

The two young men called the police station in an attempt to report the unsavoury treatment. “The officer who took our call said we should take down their names and submit a formal complaint. Luckily they were still in the vicinity. When we asked for their names, only one police officer, a certain Constable Podile, revealed his identity. The soldiers said we are troublesome, handcuffed us together and shoved us into the police van.

They then drove around doing rounds in the village with us in the back. It was only when I complained that the handcuffs are hurting me, as the grip was too tight, that they handcuffed us separately.” But little did they know that this was just the beginning of their ordeal. Kgakole says the officers then asked where they live.

“Nthaga told them that he lives at the Molefi Secondary School teachers’ quarters. As we drove off in that direction, one officer said they could not drop us off without beating us up. I thought they were joking until they unleashed slaps and punches on us alternating with bashing us with batons. I saw stars.”

Kgakole says the officers continued to beat him up after they had dropped Nthaga off. “At some point I pretended to have passed out, hoping they would leave me alone but one of them kicked me in the stomach. I sat up and they continued beating me, mocking me saying that I am a coward.”

When they dropped him off his shocked grandparents took him to the police station. Nthaga arrived shortly thereafter in the company of his mother. The two camps were assisted by Inspector Lucky Gouwe, who called the officers to the police station. “They confirmed that they had come across us but denied beating us up. It was strange because we were still bruised and bleeding.”

They insist that some of the officers appeared drunk. The two families suggested an alcohol test but the police were reluctant. “Gouwe said he had no powers to test the soldiers. He made several calls and said the soldiers’ senior was coming from Gaborone. We sat there until 5am waiting for a person who never arrived. We then filed a statement and went to the hospital,” shared Kgakole’s mother. Their medical test results show that they suffered swollen abdominal muscles, swollen necks and wrists.

Kgakole’s mother said she was not with her son on the night of the incident. “I was in Mochudi but elsewhere, while Sipho was visiting his grandparents. I understand officers beat them up for no apparent reason. We are awaiting further correspondence from the police on the matter.” Nthaga’s mother was cagey with details, insinuating that speaking to the media might interfere with police investigations.

 Inspector Gouwe confirmed the assault complaints. “We have received complaints from five other residents who say they were harassed and assaulted by soldiers and police officers who were on patrol duty during the holidays. We have taken down their statements and investigations are ongoing.”

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Botswana urged to sign Maputo

Keletso Thobega

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Botswana is one of the five countries that have been advised to sign the Maputo Protocol. Botswana, Egypt and Morocco are the only three African countries that have not signed this Protocol. Adopted in 2003 and implemented in 2005, the Maputo Protocol is a ground-breaking protocol on women and girls’ human rights, both within Africa and beyond.

It compensates for the shortcomings in the 1981 African Charter with respect to women and girls rights. It includes 32 articles on women and girls’ rights, and also provides an explicit definition of discrimination against women, which was missing in the African Charter.

The Maputo Protocol defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction or any differential treatment based on sex and whose objectives or effects compromise or destroy the recognition, enjoyment or the exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all spheres of life.”

The State of African Women Report 2018 stipulates that more still needs to be done to implement laws and commitments to the rights of women and girls in African societies. While there has been significant improvements in addressing issues affecting women and girls over the years, the report notes that commitment to girls and women’s right is still lagging behind.

The report highlights that:
“Three in five countries in Africa do not criminalise rape, young women aged 15-24 in sub-Saharan Africa are 2.5 times more likely to be infected by HIV in comparison to men in the same age group, more than half of maternal deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa and that gender based violence and sexual assault still affects women more”.

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Mama Rampa, the Good

Yvonne Mooka

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NOBLE CALLING: Martha Rampa on a mission to rescue the underprivileged

Martha Rampa, project manager at AAP Home Based Care and Family Life Programme quit her nursing job over ten years ago to attend to the needs of orphans, poor and sick.

AAP has 3119 orphans and underprivileged children from South East, Kweneng, Kanye and Kgalagadi districts. The Non-Governmental Organisation aims at supporting, providing food, clothing, shelter, education, nursing care, counselling and supporting destitute, terminally ill patients and orphaned children.

According to Rampa, the thrust of the practice is the link between the patient and the clinical management services. “It is a person-centred approach, which ensures that patients receive the appropriate service in a supportive and effective manner. Destitute and orphaned children have over time become integral part AAP programmes,” she said.

Last Saturday, she organised an appreciation dinner for donors. It was a colourful event where beneficiaries had also come to testify about the way their lives have changed since they were enrolled.

One of the young girls said that she had given up on life as she was from a poor family. The under 15 girl said that through AAP, she managed to continue and is exceling at school. A young man under 20 said that he was moved from a settlement where he could not focus on his studies because of his family background.

AAP put him through a different school that has boarding. “At AAP, we call her mama Rampa. She is our mother and we are so blessed to have her,” he said at the event in Gaborone.

The primary aim of AAP is to rehabilitate and develop children in difficult circumstances such as orphaned children, street children, economically poor and socially oppressed children and work for the eradication of child labour and child exploitation.

Rampa said the vision is to help and give many more children a real and loving home which helps them to live and grow up to be free, healthy and independent individuals; to influence behavioural change of individuals, especially those in the realm of sex and family life and to introduce a change that will bring a transformation, which alleviates the impact of HIV/Aids infection and stops the spread of the virus within the community.

She said there were local companies that had committed themselves to giving the children food after every two weeks. Through her gift of counselling, she also assists with providing emotional and spiritual support including counselling to orphans, destitute, terminally ill and the poor. She also prays for them.

She said that since the project started in 2000, the focus was on the care of HIV/AIDS patients. Volunteers were trained to take care of terminally ill patients in their homes. “Due to lack of funds in supporting the volunteers, for three years only 45 were full time serving in the project with great results.

“A networking relationship was established with Ministry of Health/AIDS department and Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs as well as other NGOs like BOCAIP, Clinics around Gaborone and Church leaders. We effectively communicated our mission to our leaders like Counsellors, Members of Parliament and diKgosi in the areas where we are operating,” she said.

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