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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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Gender based violence cases expected to rise

Joe Brown

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BY TLOTLO MBAZO
Botswana Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre (BGBVPSC) has secured four more safe houses in different areas to cater for gender-based violence survivors who need shelter during the 28-day lockdown.
According to the CEO of BGBVPSC, Lorato Moalusi, the Centre has been receiving more cases on a daily basis since the beginning of the lockdown on Friday and are expecting more.
“We’ve had to turn away a GBV survivor last Thursday because of limited spaces, but we are happy that we are with her now,” Moalusi says, adding that this is what the are trying to avoid by securing more space.
Currently the principal shelter in Gaborone is full as they were forced to cut to half their normal capacity of 20 to only 10 as a result of the Covid-19 regulations.
Moalusi adds that they are preparing for the inevitable by setting up more safe houses. She appeals to good samaritans to assist with furniture such as beds, cooking facilities and kitchen utensils.
BGBVPSC in collaboration with other youth and child care organizations as well as the Ministry of Health and Wellness is also actively involved in humanitarian care of the less previledged during the lockdown by supplying care packages including toiletries and food. They have already distributed to targeted families in Gaborone, Gabane, Tlokweng, Metsimotlhabe, Mmopane and Ghantsi.
Moalusi adds that they have also been proactive to offer phycho-social support to frontline workers, staff in two of the 14 quarantine sites and to those that have been quarantined. They have availed 30 counselors from five NGOs – BGBVPSC, Women Against Rape in Maun, BOSASNET, Child Line and LEGABIBO.
“We started on Saturday assigning two of our cousellors per quarantine centres that we chose to work with, that is Cresta Lodge and Grand Aria,” Moalusi says.
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BACK ON TRACK

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BR train 0501/BD 540 would not have derailed on 10 December 2019 had necessary precautions been taken, Botswana Railways (BR) staff members told the ongoing commission of inquiry in Mahalapye.

They blame the fatal accident in which two BR employees were killed on a raft of lapses, indecisions and negligence on the part of BR management. BR Senior Traffic Controller Simon Matenje revealed that there is a WhatsApp group that discusses everything concerning the running of BR trains. He said meteorological services had posted a memo warning that there would be floods on 4th December and shared it on the WhatsApp group. “The contents of the memo and their implications were discussed,” said Matenje who revealed that the group comprises most of the senior personnel in the BR hierarchy.

He lamented that although read and discussed the contents of the memo were “not given due attention.” Above that, on 9th and 10th December many BR staff members using the south bound and north bound trains warned relevant authorities about the possibility of floods, said Matenje. He believes there was negligence of duty on the part of management because everybody was aware of the floods at Moreomabele and Palla Road. “The relevant office should have directed stoppage of the trains or the adoption of an appropriate speed limit. “The best that management did was to give warnings about the floods but fell short of prescribing a solution,” he said. Matenje, who was on leave, said that he communicated his concerns about the reports of flooding and possible solutions to no avail.

When asked who exactly had the authority to do that, Matenje explained that it was the Operation’s Manager. Matenje also decried the lapses in the organisation’s system. He said motor trollies are helpful when inspecting the railway line. “However, they have not featured for a long time,” said Matenje who feels that regular inspection of the rail is a very critical part of safety. He said BR has not held any safety workshops in a long time. Mompoloki Rutherford, a train driver also appearing before the commission conceded that trollies had not been used on the BR lines for a long time. He said some senior managers use the train to inspect the line instead of trollies. “There are only two seats in the cabin but, contrary to safety rules, sometimes they just join us in the cabin which is a breach of the safety rules,” said Rutherford. Dikabelo Nawa, a retired train driver noted that BR workers were a sad lot because of pressure always exerted on them by management.

“Drivers work under pressure. The line between Mafikeng and Plumtree is old and very bad but we were always pushed by management to arrive on time. “There is just too much pressure. I once lost time and that put me into a big problem.” He said. He is also unhappy with the undergrowth and hanging branches next to the line because they obstruct the view of the crew. He appealed to the panel to recommend the introduction of a training centre for BR staff.

Peter Mokokwe, a recently retired train driver also complained that the rail road is never inspected. In addition to that, he told the commission that, he witnessed water around Palla Road on 9th December at the same place where the derailment later took place. Mokokwe, who himself did not alert control room about the water because he had heard through radio communication that his colleagues had reported the situation to control room, is also of the view that the disaster could have been averted had the 501 crew been alerted of the water situation.

On the other hand, a train controller named Moses Sethomo says he never got the communique warning the drivers about the impending floods. “There was a clear breakdown of communication,” said Sethomo who revealed that very often, even BR assets are wrongly used. “For example, sometimes freight locomotives instead of passenger train locomotives are used to haul the passenger train and this is a safety concern,” he noted. The hearings are continuing this week. The rail services that were suspended have since been resumed.

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