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Churches must fight GBV atrocities – Mmereki-Burns

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Churches that remain silent in the face of gender injustice are renouncing their role, says the fourth Vice President under Gender and Development at the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC) Bonolo Mmereki-Burns. Addressing a workshop organised by the Anglican Diocese of Botswana Guilds, Mmereki-Burns urged faith communities to take a lead role in fighting gender-based violence (GBV). She said while the church is a place of love, acceptance, healing and forgiveness, it also has a duty to speak boldly about atrocities most of which are committed towards women and girls such as sexual, emotional and physical abuse, early marriages even if it has been taboo to do so.

Themed, ‘Beyond 16 days of Activism,’ the workshop was held at the St Augustine Theological School on Saturday. “To be silent about GBV is to be folded together with those who carry out such heinous crimes. Silence is not a virtue, it is a vice two times compounded, because it contains both indifference to the victims and complicity with the destroyers,” Burns said. She said the church is meant to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, not an enabler or to conceal perpetrators. Burns told attendants that it is important to understand the biblical text in its original context and to know what it means in today’s context. “There are no verses in the Bible that overtly condone domestic abuse.

To the contrary, it is made clear that God hates violence and relationships must be driven by selflessness, grace and love.” However, she acknowledged that the Bible continues to be misinterpreted by societies to provide men with opportunities to carry out gender-based violence on their women and children. She outlined several different parts of the Bible commonly referred to: first are the verses telling women to submit to their husbands and male authority, under the doctrine known as male headship. Second are verses that say God hates divorce. And third are those in 1 Peter that tell women to submit to husbands in a very particular way, as they follow instructions to slaves to submit to even “harsh masters.”

But Burns said it is crucial for the Bible to be read in light of the culture it was produced in. “We have inherited a Christian legacy and traditions that view women in an unhelpful and shameful way, and because we are not critically engaged with that theology, we continue to perpetuate that theology in our context,” she said. Meanwhile Detective Inspector Moses Patrick of Central Police noted with sadness that cases of GBV have continued to rise, in some cases resulting in loss of lives and if one survives, they are left with life long mental disorders, stigma and physical disabilities. He revealed that since the beginning of the year until March, Central Police recorded 242 cases related to GBV including six for rape, one murder and 85 for common assault. He said 104 perpetrators have so far been arrested. However, the detective added that the figures are only a fraction of what is happening on the ground as most cases go unreported.

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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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