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Beaten, battered, raped

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After four years of a sustained campaign of psychological, emotional and physical abuse by her ex-husband that was designed, she believes, to make her feel worthless, Jane* left her home with only a blanket and her most prized possession – her daughter. The 35-year-old lecturer at the Gaborone Technical College gave a heart-wrenching testimony of how she survived an abusive marriage against the odds at the St Augustine Theological School recently. She shared how at 19 years old, she was forced to get married after she fell pregnant, after all she had embarrassed her family, herself and the church by falling pregnant out of wedlock. Even before getting married, signs of abuse in the relationship were there according to Jane.

She recalled how, the night before their nuptials, her husband-to-be was nowhere to be found. When he finally resurfaced in the wee hours of the morning, he pushed, shoved, harassed and ruined Jane’s hair as she carried their one year old daughter. “He kept saying how he will ruin my beauty and beat the degree out of me since it’s the one making me crazy,” she narrated. That night, she said, she called her parents wanting to cancel the wedding but all she got was a lecture of how that would embarrass the family. “My mother and uncles said I needed to go ahead with the wedding, whatever issues I had will be addressed after the wedding.” The abuse went on however, day and night, as Jane, a student at the time, balanced school and taking care of their child and home. She was deeply exhausted, depleted and worn. But even worse, was living in a perpetual state of walking on eggshells. “He would go out drinking, come home to harass and beat me then demand sex. If I refused, he would become enraged. It was easier to give in than argue.

Those nights I felt that I was almost being raped,” she said. “Every month I was treated for a sexually transmitted disease.” The night before Jane finally left her husband and the house they lived in for good, he had gone drinking as usual and brought home a woman. She found them frolicking on her bed and without a hint of remorse, he shouted at her and told her how useless and ugly she was. Her daughter saw and heard it all. That’s when she decided enough was enough. She shares her story, not for pity, but believes it’s important to have a conversation about how support structures that are often meant to build a person and the family often fail when it comes to dealing with domestic abuse. Jane, who feels let down and misled by society said, “I’m not a victim but a victor, a warrior. I don’t need you to feel sad for me.

I need you to help me make noise and disrupt the cycle, become a catalyst for change. “We have created an environment where abuse is tolerated and covered up, even here in the church.” Social worker from the Botswana Counseling Association, Keletso Tshekiso also acknowledged that when speaking of domestic violence, and the cultural factors that foment it, one crucial element missing from the discussion has been religion. She said in the years of working with victims of domestic violence, she found it was “extremely common” that women would be “encouraged by the church” to stay in an abusive relationship. “Women in faith communities where divorce is shunned, and deemed shameful, often feel trapped in abusive marriages,” she said. “How do we hope to achieve peace in the world when there is no peace in the home?” she asked the congregants? Tshekiso said it was important to recognise that where there is abuse, the whole family including children, need to be counseled instead of just the couple only.

This is because children who grow up in an abusive environment grow up with the idea that “this is a proper way to interact.” “We have to get almost indignant about violence in the family and not justify it in any way,” she said. *Jane is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the victim

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‘It breaks my heart to see my child sick’

Keletso Thobega

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A CRY FOR HELP: Young mother Lesedi Pilane is appealing for help as she seeks to get her child healed. The liver transplant will cost P400 000

A Mochudi mother of a baby with liver disease is praying day and night for her child to get a liver transplant. A sick child is every mother’s nightmare. All one can do is hope for the best. This is the situation that 23-year old Lesedi Pilane finds herself in. Pretty with beady bright eyes and soft features, the soft-spoken mother is heartbroken by the pain and anguish that her child Rorisang Nathan Pilane endures.

Rorisang is in the progressive stage of liver disease and needs an urgent liver transplant. When Pilane spoke to The Midweek Sun yesterday, she had just returned from a check-up at Princess Marina hospital. Mother and child are currently at Deborah Retief Memorial hospital in Mochudi where baby Rorisang has been admitted since 1 January 2019. Pilane and baby have been in and out of hospital for the past few months since Rorisang was diagnosed with biliary artesia (liver disease) at three months old.

Biliary artesia is defined as a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts that occurs in infants and is characterised by obliteration or discontinuity of the extrahepatic biliary system, resulting in obstruction to bile flow. This progressive liver problem is a chronic disease that often becomes evident shortly after birth with signs of yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice). Bile eventually builds up in the liver and damages it, leading to scarring as well as loss of liver function and tissue.

The unemployed Pilane seems overwhelmed by the situation and admits that it has been a tall order to come to terms with living with and taking care of an ill child. Pilane is however taking it all in her stride. After her child was born, she did not suspect that anything was wrong. They went for the usual six weeks check-up after birth and the nurses also gave them a clean bill of health.
“I only realised that something was wrong when the baby’s eyes started turning yellow and his urine was also dark yellow. His tummy was also stiff and slightly swollen. I found this strange and that is when I went back to the clinic.”

That is when Pilane was given a referral to Princess Marina Hospital where they confirmed that Rorisang has biliary artestia. Pilane went to register Rorisang at the transplant unit.
At four months old a Kasai operation (surgical treatments performed on children with biliary artesia) was done on Rorisang but it was not successful. They told her that operations of this nature are often done when a child is two months and below. “At Princess Marina hospital, I was told that his liver was already damaged so he needs a liver transplant. I was even told that the situation was so dire that he would live up to a year and a half.”

She did not receive any assistance. She was informed that the doctors were attending a workshop in India. After some time she was contacted and told that she could be his living donor if a donor is not found. “We did tests and everything seemed to be going well. They told me that they had taken the blood samples to a lab in South Africa but never heard from them again.” Pilane says that they were admitted at Princess Marina hospital in March last year.

In April an operation was done on Rorisang to drain bile from the liver. Rorisang was given medication to support his liver but she says it is not working as his situation is still deteriorating.
Pilane was informed that a liver transplant in India costs P400, 000 and P1.3 million in South Africa. Pilane, who is unemployed, survives off the generosity of family members, who she says have been supportive.

She says it is difficult to leave him with anyone else. “He does not cry or complain when he is sick so it is difficult for those who do not know to take care of him. I know that once he sleeps often or looks drawn then it means that he is not feeling well.” Of late, baby Rorisang has not been eating well. “He only drinks milk. He has now lost a lot of weight. Dieticians have recommended him diets and ordered him some foods but he refuses to eat and if you force him to, he actually vomits,” his mother says.

Oddly, a few months ago, baby Rorisang could gain a kilogramme per day. The doctors told his mother that this was because of water accumulation and explained that it was not good as it would compress the organs such as the lungs and make him struggle to breathe. “They said we could lose him before the operation so they suggested that he be medically tapped in order to reduce the water.” Baby Rorisang still faces medical challenges right now.

His eyes, private parts and legs are swollen but his size has reduced since the tapping. Pilane says that she is unsure what the current state is with the liver transplant. “I was told that government only funds one liver transplant patient per year. My particulars are with them so I do not know whether they will assist me.”

On Monday, Pilane was contacted and asked to come to Princess Marina Hospital for a blood test and cross match. She is praying for a breakthrough for her child and in the meantime she takes each day as it comes. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I am stressed. I have put all my faith in God.” At the time of going to print, Pilane was still waiting for a response regarding the possibility of a liver transplant.  She has also received request to assist from a few people and has already sought assistance to get a trust fund account opened for Rorisang.

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CHECK MATE

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UNLIKELY SIGHT: Former DIS Director Isaac Kgosi was arrested on Tuesday night by DIS agents led by his successor Peter Magosi

The arrest of founding Head of Directorate of Intelligence and Securty Services (DISS), Isaac Kgosi at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA) Tuesday night adds a new twist in the ominously dangerous local political climate.

Kgosi was arrested in the airport lobby as he pushed his luggage trolley immediately on arrival from South Africa yesterday night by DISS agents led by the new spy boss, Peter Magosi.
He was then handed what appeared to be an arrest warrant, which he read before being handcuffed amidst protestations that the DISS had invited the Press to embarrass him in a public spectacle.
After a brief spell Kgosi succumbed and was whisked away to Mogositshane Police Station where he would be read his charges. He was overheard telling Magosi he was going to “topple this government, I promise you,” a threat which in law constitutes treason.

At the time of writing, Kgosi’s lawyer Unoda Mack and one of Kgosi’s close relatives were said to be at the airport. The arrest happened on the fifth day of President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi’s private visit to his Mozambican colleague, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi. Masisi is due to arrive home today Wednesday January 16th.

Kgosi’s arrest is bound to exacerbate the rift between President Dr. Masisi and his predecessor, Dr. Ian Khama. Their feud – initially over a perceived refusal of the state to avail Khama air travel for his personal and official chores – broke irretrievably when Masisi fired Isaac Kgosi from the public service.To make matters worse, Masisi also declined Khama’s overtures to hire Kgosi as his Private Secretary. Parallel to this feuding, the state was busy investigating corruption and money laundering charges against Kgosi and his alleged involvement in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal.

Kgosi was appointed by Khama during the latter’s presidency. He is not only a close personal friend of Khama but also worked with him at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). A renowned sniper (marksman), Kgosi’s DISS was the embodiment of fear.

The spy agency was described as a law unto itself and despised for eavesdropping on people’s conversations and alleged acts of terror including extra-judicial killings. His arrest and possible prosecution during an election year signals the state’s unflinching commitment to instil the rule of law and restore public confidence in oversight institutions.However, this could provoke a long drawn-out battle between the antagonistic factionsof the ruling Botswana Democratic Party – the pro-Khama New Jerusalem and pro-Masisi Cava – with the sum effect of compromising public service delivery. It is no secret Kgosi is on the side of Khama, and that Khama depends on Kgosi for his exploits.

Yet again, the arrest is the administrtaion’s unambigous message that it has thrown down the gauntlet for the perceived purveyors of corruption to take up. It remains to be seen how Kgosi will react. He allegedly told Magosi Tuesday night, “You are forcing me to do things I never intended to do,” what these things are, is known only to him. However, on the political front there is general foreboding that feeds the lust of doomsday prophets.

The country’s eminent citizens among them the thrid president, Festus Mogae as well as former Vice Presiddent Ponatshego Kedikilwe and property magnate, David Magang have joined the fray on the side of President Masisi in the protracted Khama/Masisi impasse. And just like at the height of the legal brawl between the State and former Debswana boss, Louis Nchindo – Mogae will not harbour any secrets – not least concerning Khama’s ill-fated succession plan and Masisi’s role in it.

Suddenly, the internal power struggle in the BDP has become a national security threat and a cancer that threatens to eat away the gains made in the country’s 53 year history as a democracy.
Conversely, it has emboldened others and awakened the allure of contestation in former minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to challenge Masisi for the party’s presidency at this year’s July national congress, which thing, some watchers dismiss as “absurd” while other pundits, such as foreign minister Unity Dow, see Mma Venson as a decoy or proxy for Khama’s grand comeback to the presidency.

Khama has however denied attempts at pulling a ‘Putin”- that is, returning to the presidency after his constitutional term has expired.
Just as the Sybilline Oracle warned the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar about the Ides of March, the BDP was forewarned by a Zambian ‘seer’or prophet; long ago about its eventual collapse, which is eerily becoming imminent with the passage of time.

Some may say, the Botswana Democratic Party made its bed when it recruited Khama into politics from the military and must now lie on it. But the reality is that the Khama/Masisi feud risks tearing the county asunder. A Tswana dictum counsels that there can be no two bulls in a kraal at the same time, and in like manner, there can be no two presidents in a republic or two centres of power. This is the warning that all the eminent BDP leaders have sounded to the nation and the party.

President Dr. Masisi stirred the hornet’s nest and rattled the interest of white monopoly capital last year when at the height of the elephant poaching scandal, that made international headlines, he disamrmed the Wildlife Protection Unit.

He also had the audacity to set up a plebiscite to gauge the people’s views regarding the ban on wildlife hunting, which had been a permanent feature of the past adminstration. The disarming of the Unit particularly carried a sting with Khama, himself an avowed conservationist and distinguished fellow of Conservation International. And all these actions that seem to go against the wishes of Khama and his loyalists, threaten to plunge the country into a state of disrepair, for they will not take the latest arrest lying down. Khama will surely react, and the nation should be on the alert.

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