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Crackdown on fraudulent marriages

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When local woman Malebogo Segokgo* met Nigerian hunk Stephen Afamefuna* five years ago, all she felt was love. They looked beautiful together and he had all the right features of her dream man: Tall, dark, handsome and prayerful. Actually, they met at one of the popular charismatic churches in town. Afamefuna did not take long to marry Segokgo. Within seven months, she was already his wife. It was not too long until her husband asked her to help him apply for his residential and business permit, something she did without any hesitation. A nurse by profession, the wife says she also took P300 000 loan from one of the commercial banks for them to start business together. Sadly, their marriage has ended and Segokgo feels her Nigerian ex-husband used her to settle in Botswana. And she learned later that he is actually married back in Nigeria.

The warning signs

Segokgo says the redflags were there from the start but she chose to ignore them. She explains that her uncles and aunts were not pleased when he chose to bring his Nigerian friends and business friends for Patlo instead of his family from Nigeria. “One of my uncles suggested we wait a little bit but I didn’t listen, especially since we had already set our wedding date,” she says. Within two years into their marriage, her ex-husband was already staying with another woman and had rejected her and their newly-born baby. “When I went to inquire at our business office, I learned that he had found another woman,” she says. She is not the only Motswana in this predicament. Another victim says that she was suspicious when after the wedding her husband did not take her to Nigeria as promised. “We had the first leg here in Botswana and we were supposed to go and meet his royal family in Nigeria and discuss the second leg of the wedding which we had agreed to have after five months,” she says, adding that in their two years of marriage, she had never visited her husband’s family. These are just some of the many cases that Detective Senior Assistant Commissioner Nnunu Lesetedi spoke about in an interview with The Midweek Sun. He says that some foreigners have found themselves a good way to enter Botswana and do business, and that is, by marrying gullible Batswana women. He tells The Midweek Sun that Nigerians especially, are using women to operate businesses in the country. What worries him, he says, is that they marry them quickly and dump them within a short period of time. “They come here with the strategy in place because they know marrying our women would make it easier for them to get residence and work permits,” he says. He tells this publication that some Nigerian men married to Batswana women are still married with children back home, which they never disclose to the Batswana women. In one of the incidents, Lesetedi says they found out that two Nigerian men had left their families in Nigeria and married in Botswana again. He says they then left the Batswana women without legally divorcing them and continued running their businesses alone. “We have a case whereby one Motswana woman was neighbours with her Nigerian husband, and didn’t know it since 2003,” he says, adding that the wife was shocked to find out. Another woman from Mochudi was brought before her husband who left her for over five years without a word. “All this is pure marriage of convenience and we won’t tolerate it anymore. Working in the country illegally is also wrong because they don’t pay tax,” he states. Bigamy, the act of marrying more than one woman is an offence under the Laws of Botswana in Section 13 of the Marriage Act. Should a man want another wife, he must first divorce the first one. “No person who has previously contracted a marriage under this part with a person still living may contract a marriage under this part or in accordance with any customary, Muslim, Hindu or other religious rites unless the previous marriage has been dissolved or annulled by a sentence of court,” reads the Act.

The reality about fraudulent marriages Last year, South African government planned to crack down on dubious marriage proposals, warning that couples could face 15 years in prison if they are involved in a fraudulent marriage. According to SA’s Home Affairs ministry, there are rising numbers of South African women who are selling their hands in marriage to foreigners seeking residents’ permits. These men pay the women between R500 and R2 000 a month to be their ‘wife’ for them to get permits. Hundreds of fraudulent marriages take place every year in Canada too. Citizenship and Immigration Canada acknowledges roughly 1,000 such cases are reported annually. In 2009, nearly 45,000 people immigrated to Canada as spouses.

 

*Malebogo Segokgo not her real names, used to protect identity of victim.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

The MidweekSun Admin

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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

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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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