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Sex trafficking hits home in Botswana



Imagine being excited about getting married to a prince charming that stays outside your country and invites you, only to come and be turned into a sex slave! That is exactly how the world has become.

According to Kagisano Women’s Shelter director Lorato Moalosi-Sakufiwa, young women have become targets of sex maniacs who promise them jobs, scholarships and even marriage. In the past two years, the Shelter has dealt with two sex trafficking cases, involving two minors from outside Botswana. These are young girls under the age of 18. One was from a neighbouring country and was brought into Botswana by a non-citizen couple that promised to take her to school in Botswana.

The other from the northern part of the continent and promised by another couple from her home country residing in Botswana, that they had found a job for her in Botswana. Upon their arrival, the young girls were exploited by their hosts by being turned into sex objects in return for money. “Various men slept with them for money and their hosts took the money,” said Sakufiwa. After some tip-offs, the girls were taken to the shelter for security and they have since been taken to back to their home countries. The perpetrators got arrested. She explained that even though sex trafficking is subtle in Botswana, it can grow anytime like in other countries.

“They take advantage of the women and girls’ vulnerability. For example, a non-citizen can promise a young girl from his home country marriage, and call her to Botswana, only for her to turn into a sex slave,” she said. As for other cases, she said it is possible for a perpetrator to take his victim from a remote area in Botswana and make her a sex slave in Gaborone. Understanding Sex trafficking Sex trafficking is a crime when women, men or children are forcefully involved in commercial sex acts. It is a form of human trafficking. The Directorate of Public Prosecution announced last year that they were in the process of prosecuting 15 cases of human trafficking involving Batswana and foreign nationals. Speaking at the Botswana judicial colloquium on anti-human trafficking, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi said  Botswana Police Service (BPS) and Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) have arrested and prosecuted a number of perpetrators involved in human trafficking or transiting of victims to neighbouring countries.

“Although the inclination in such cases is towards the victim, our known legal systems remain important in that every suspect should be subjected to the normal processes of investigation and prosecution within the provisions of Botswana laws in particular the anti-human trafficking Act of 2014, the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act,” he said. He emphasised that Botswana has intensified its efforts and interventions against human trafficking through public education, capacity building and training workshops for different role players. Botswana, he said, has a long term strategy in the form of an anti-human trafficking national action plan 2017-2020. Last year, the US State Department included Botswana in its ‘Tier 2’ list of countries, the US accuses of not fully meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.

The report released on 30 September, however said Botswana is making significant efforts to do so. It shows that government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period hence, Botswana remained on Tier 2. “The government demonstrated increasing efforts by investigating and prosecuting more trafficking cases than in the previous reporting period and obtaining its first trafficking conviction under the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act,” it says. It says the government also identified more victims of trafficking, established a specialised anti-trafficking unit, and appointed two officials, trained on human trafficking, to monitor the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases.

However, the report says, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas, including failure to amend the 2009 Children’s Act to include in the definition of child trafficking, the commercial sexual exploitation of children without requiring the means of force, coercion, or movement. It also says that government’s efforts to protect victims were uneven. “In the government’s first trafficking conviction, the trafficker served only eight months of an 18-month sentence in prison, although the government’s appeal of that sentence was pending at the end of the reporting period,” the report says. The report recommended that Botswana should formalise the system to refer victims to social services and ensure all victims receive protective services.

The country should also amend the anti-trafficking laws to ensure penalties are sufficiently stringent by eliminating fines in lieu of prison time and disallow suspended sentences when sentencing convicted traffickers. The US also urged Botswana to increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers; continue to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers through formal procedures. The government investigated 12 trafficking cases and prosecuted 18 defendants under the 2014 Act, compared with five investigations and seven prosecutions in the previous reporting period.

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The MidweekSun Admin



University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve



The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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