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“Send him to prison”

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It has been more than four years since Neelo Kgosikwena, 51, of Moshupa, lost her two daughters after their sister’s ex-boyfriend torched the house they were sleeping in.

The mother was also inside when the incident happened. Last week, during re-examination before Gaborone High Court Judge, Justice Sigh Walia, Kgosikwena burst into tears as she could not contain herself when she saw the accused, Gaone Molwalefe, a former science teacher at Mookami Junior School in Kanye.
Molwalefe denied ever torching the family or the house on that fateful night. He told Justice Walia that there was no bad blood between him and his ex-girlfriend, Kealeboga Siwane, who has since got married.

“We stayed together at my place at one point. On that day, we even went together to her mother’s house in Moshupa to fix the roofing of her house and bought her food items,” he said, stressing that there was no tension between them.He said that on that fateful early September 27, 2012 night, “My car caught fire and I didn’t know where it came from.” Kgosikwena says Molwalefe and her daughter have a child of whom they shared custody. She said that when the accused and her daughter came together with the child on that afternoon, she asked them to fix part of her house that had been destroyed by the rain, and that they had come with Molwalefe’s cousin, who willingly assisted.

“After that, he left with his cousin, showing no signs of anger,” she said. She revealed that her daughter was then a nurse in Kanye where Molwalefe also worked, hence he gave her a ride with the child to Moshupa. She said their relationship had ended three months before, and that parents were involved in the decision. Kgosikwena told court that at around midnight, she heard voices in the other room and went to enquire what was going on. On arrival, she was told that the accused person said he came for his child and by that time her other deceased child had taken the child to the neighbours. When the accused realised that she was calling the police, he took off in his car, she said.

At around 3am she heard the sound of a car and its lights penetrated through her room. She woke up to see who it was, only to see Molwalefe holding a screw driver, fiddling the door with it. She also saw something like a small cylinder in front of him, connected to something like a gun.

Upon gaining entrance into the house, the accused allegedly ‘pulled the trigger’ of that cylinder, leaving the old woman burning, and she screamed her children’s names. “He splashed petrol everywhere, and used something that looked like a gun to torch my house,” she said. Two of her daughters were severely burnt and they died a month apart – October and November 2012. Molwalefe’s ex-girlfriend, says her mother, jumped out of the window and went to call neigbours. The fire destroyed property worth over P13, 000.

Kgosikwena is aggrieved that since the incident in 2012, the accused was remanded for a short period and has been granted bail since then. “He deserves to be in prison. He killed my children, and he nearly killed me,” she said, tears swelling in her eyes. Prosecutor Bantekanye Dikago told The Midweek Sun that they were going to file final submissions on February 7, while defence counsel Kole Kole will file his on February 21, and await a date for judgment. The accused person is facing two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and arson.

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Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments

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Young people representing Botswana at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) in Nairobi, Kenya last week have expressed disappointment at the slow pace at which governments are moving towards achieving ICPD25 ideals.

Trevor Oahile, a youth advocate and student at the University of Botswana participated at the Nairobi Summit to highlight on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of men and boys.
Oahile hosts a radio show sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Don’t Get It Twisted on Yarona FM. The show deals with issues that affect boys and men. Oahile participated in a panel discussion at the Summit on the involvement of men and boys in accelerating the ICPD promise.

He is of the view that countries needs to work together to end violence that is perpetuated by harmful gender norms that are antagonistic to progress towards the ideals of the ICPD agenda. “Botswana government and private sector are still challenged to invest a lot of money into implementing their commitments,” Oahile said, adding that Comprehensive Sexual Education on the other hand has to be rolled out to every school in the country.

“We also acknowledge that it is important to avoid stereotypes that impact decisions that people make. Men and boys often avoid certain services because they are known to be for girls and women,” Oahile said. Millicent Sethaile was at the Summit as a youth ambassador from an organisation called Her Voice, which funds and offers grants to smaller organisations that advocate for SRHR in communities. In her view the summit was significant because it was an opportunity for countries including Botswana to make commitments to fulfill the unfinished business of the ICPD made 25 years ago.

“What struck me the most is that I realised that Botswana has a long way to go to achieve the commitments she set for herself.”Sethaile also observed that the four commitments including to strengthen access to family planning, the reduction of maternal deaths, reduction of Gender Based Violence, provision of quality, timely and disaggregated data are activities that were already in the pipeline and have been discussed before. “I believe we now have to come up with actionable items that we can work on so that we can effectively deal with current challenges.”
For 18 year old University student Michelle Simon, the Nairobi Summit was a reality check, an opportunity to reflect and map the way forward.

“I realised that there are so many challenges, especially in Africa concerning SRHR,” Simon said. She also realised that Botswana has a lot of catching up to do to implement the commitments of the ICPD. “I also realised that issues including youth in power were left out.” Botho Mahlunge on the other hand comes back from the Summit with a conclusion that there are a lot of predicaments that young people find themseles in across the African continent including GBV and teenage pregnancy.

Programmes need to be intensified to ensure implementation. Mahlunge is also of the view that there is minimum youth engagement on issues that affet them the most. “Young people are tired of always convening about the same issues. It’s time to see the outcomes of Summits and Conferences,” Mahlunge said. She advised the youth to also be willing to engage when the oppotunity avails itself and to take up programmes that have been set to help them. Mahlunge said that failure to educate our young people on sexuality “is the reason so many girls are getting pregnant and infected with HIV.”

She said the continued exclusion of young people in rural areas from sexual and reproductive health and rights discussion is also to blame for the prevailing state of affairs. “Young people in rural areas are completely vulnerable. They are so far removed from the little information and services available to young people in urban areas,” Mahlunge observed.

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Safe communities for our women and girls – Moalosi

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Gender Based Violence (GBV) has been identified as one of the critical issues that impede women, girls and men from fully enjoying their human rights and unleashing their potential. Delivering his State of the National Address (SONA) on Monday, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the rising statistics of those affected.

The National Relationship Study of 2018 revealed that 37 percent of women and 21 percent of men have suffered some form of violence in their lifetime, which occurred within Intimate Partner Relationships.

To address this problem, President Masisi says government will intensify the implementation of the National Strategy Towards Ending GBV. The Strategy focuses on the comprehensive care and support of GBV survivors; the Prevention of new GBV incidences; Strengthening national capacity to address GBV; Improving efficiency and effectiveness of the coordination and management of the national GBV response; and Strategic information and knowledge management on GBV.

Just last week, Botswana Non-Governmental Organisations represented at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, committed to ensuring that all is done to end GBV.CEO of Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre, Lorato Moalosi who was presenting on behalf of Botswana NGOs said having reflected on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda since 1994 and on what has changed on Sexual GBV, they are equally disturbed by increasing levels of SGBV in Botswana communities.

Her desire is to empower communities to come up with their own solutions to end SGBV. Moalosi told participants at the Summit that NGOs in Botswana commit to contracting and ensuring robust community engagement, including starting indigenous and disability movements on SGBV to galvanise and mobilise communities to prevent and respond to SGBV. Their plan is to also develop sustained gender transformative programmes that mainstream HIV and GBV, as well as to expand reach and coverage of services and create community safe spaces for the hard to reach, as well as improve services in urban areas.

“We commit to utilising social contracting and ensure NGOs lead in the prevention of SGBV and in the response to ending SGBV at community level,” Moalosi said, adding that they also commit to mainstreaming gender equality conversations and break the silence on SGBV.

“We can no longer hold back. Our communities have to be safe for our women and girls,” she said. The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 that concluded hursday last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi represents a renewed, re-energised vision and community working together to act and deliver.

“Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results for women and girls, keeping their rights and choices at the centre of everything we do,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Denmark’s Special Envoy for the ICPD25, Ambassador Ib Petersen said there will be no ICPD50 because women and girls around the world have waited long enough to have rights and choices.

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