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Gospel prodigy, Vusi plans to open own Church very soon

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At a tender age of 13, Gospel star Vusi Mtokufa was making money and headlines. He was a unique teenager until fame got to his head. And then he got involved in a life of promiscuity, and drunkenness. At 17 years old, he fell in love with a 22 year-old woman whom he was later accused for her death. It was reported that he assaulted and left her with internal bleeding. He was locked up at Boys Prison in Gaborone before his mention, when he was granted bail. He would later be acquitted. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, the 26 year-old revealed that he had it tough in 2009 when he was blamed for his girlfriend, Refilwe Thojane’s death. He says that there was a conspiracy against him by fellow artists who wanted to destroy him.

“We had a fight five days before she died. We did not have a history of violence as a couple,” he stated. According to Vusi, Thojane was drunk when they fought after he caught her with a fellow artist, after he had long expressed discomfort about their friendship. “She was drunk. As the fracas continued she threatened to break my friend’s car and I had called a cab, she jumped in and started assaulting me and broke my hand which is why I ended up in hospital,” he said. The pathologist report would later show that she died of acute liver failure which resulted from an overdose of paracetamol contrary to the prosecutor’s claims that she died of injuries sustained from the fight before her death. “She was my best friend and my woman.

I loved her. She used to dance for other artists,” he described her. For Vusi, life before and after his case was hard as he encountered rejection from every corner. People labeled him a murderer, and from a much celebrated artist who used to sell 35 000 copies of his album, he was now labeled a fake Christian. “Even churches and pastors rejected me. I felt all alone, but I never thought of suicide,” he said. However, he said his life changed when he met fellow prisoners who had repented while in prison and told him that he was going to be a man of God who would be used to heal the wounded. “Another one told me I was going to be granted bail and it happened,” he said. Vusi would later meet a Ghanaian pastor who nurtured his gift and helped restore him. He would later make a great comeback with Ama Pelo yaka which won him back into people’s hearts again.

“It was God reintroducing me back to His people and it’s all about grace and restoration,” he said. For the past two years, Vusi has been in demand among churches and local organisations to come and preach and sing for them. He has also made a name for himself in South Africa where he is also signed. In the next few months, Vusi says he will open his church called City of Hope International. He also wants to start a mentorship class to empower the youth.

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Free at last

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Gaborone United Football Club has finally handed Township Rollers the release letter of its (Rollers) Head coach, Rodolfo Zapata, Sun Sports can confirm.

Since Zapata’s appointment as Rollers head coach last month, he is yet to sit on the bench. GU has been holding tight to Zapata’s work permits that he dumped early this year for a job in Kenya. He then resurfaced last month as Rollers coach but things have been stagnant with Zapata not able to coach as he had an active work permit that needed to be cancelled.

This week, both GU Chairman Boitumelo Nsunge and Zapata confirmed that there has been an exchange of the letter. “Yes we have given him the release letter and agreed to cancel his work permit with GU,” Nsunge said.

The GU chairman however noted that they are still to discuss the alleged debt saying they have asked Zapata to furnish them with prove that indeed they owe him money over P300 000. The news will see Rollers management breath a sigh of relief as they have been trying for several weeks now, to work on the GU Zapata saga.

This publication has been reliably informed that the president of Rollers, Jagdish Shah was running out of ideas and was bound to make a decision regarding the matter some time last week. Actually speculations have been rife that Zapata would soon be replaced before he even starts official work at Rollers.

However as it stands now, anytime is teatime. Rollers is eagerly waiting on the Department of Immigration to process Zapata’s work permit with Rollers. It is not clear if the work permit will be available latest today, which will see Zapata on the bench tonight when they play Notwane Football Club, or the Argentine will have to wait for the year 2019 to start his duties.

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Olopeng’s last answer as sports minister

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Before vacating his office at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Minister Thapelo Olopeng was confronted with one last controversial question from MP for Francistown Buti Billy last week.

The MP asked about an update on the commercialisation of sport. The issue has been a hot potato since the Botswana National Sports Commission Act was amended in order to professionalise local sports. However, the process has proven to be an uphill battle. The following is an excerpt from the Parliament Hansard in which the former sports minister responded to the question.
Buti Billy (Francistown East): Asked the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to update this Honourable House on how he is commercialising sport and if there is any strategy in place to carry out that mandate.

Thapelo Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. The transition from Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) to the Commission in 2014 was the first step towards professionalisation of sport in terms of setting up structures. Sport is at different levels of commercialisation in the different sport codes depending on the level of professionalism. We have a number of teams or codes which are already at semi-professional.

In football, several clubs have their players contracted and remunerated as per signed contracts. Sport also sells broadcast rights to generate revenue. Merchandising is another way that sport has commercialised. There has been establishment of local companies that manufacture sport apparel, and these have grown in popularity over the years. We have also witnessed sport such as Boxing, Athletics, and Golf, to name but a few. We witnessed them professionalise their operations and more are expected to follow. In some of the sport codes, individual sportsmen and women play professional sport internationally.

Mr Speaker, the Botswana National Sport Commission Strategy 2028, which commenced in January 2013, is an overarching strategy towards professionalising of sport, and thus commercialisation. The strategy seeks to promote sport excellence and enhance the contribution of sport to the economy. Billy: Supplementary. Ke a leboga Tona. Fa re lebeletse sports in general; all sports codes, a Minister o itumelela gore he had created employment jaaka a bua gore other sports codes di setse di simolotse go dirwa commercial? (Looking at all sport codes in general, is the Minister of sports happy he has created employment as he says with other sport codes becoming commercial)?

Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. Thank you very much Honourable Member. Mr Speaker, my answer to that is yes, because just as at Premier League in soccer, we have 16 teams and every player within these 16 teams is on a payroll; they are paid by those individual clubs, that is creation of employment. We have our international athletes, those who participate outside the country at different events; they are paid.

We have other players, our athletes in football, netball and those who are hired by teams outside Botswana, I can just give example of teams in South Africa which have hired our players right here from Botswana and those young boys are paid by these particular teams. We have not reached where we want to reach, that is the reason why we are still developing our strategy of 2028 with Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to make sure that we turn sports into an industry.

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