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Court advised to quash NPF charges

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) yesterday (Friday) continued to blunder in the P230 million National Petroleum scandal as they failed to convince the court why the charge should be amended and why the magistrate should commit the case to the High Court.

During their last mention Broadhurst Regional Magistrate Masilo Mathaka had ordered that in their next mention both the State and the defense attorneys were to argue the two matters. The State sought to move an application to amend the charge sheet, add more accused persons and commit them to the High Court whereas the defense attorneys want the charges against their clients thrown out. In his heads of argument, defense attorney Kgosi Ngakaagae argued that they submitted for the charges against their clients to be quashed stressing that they would not accept amendment of the charge sheet.

Ngakaagae stated that on the 31st May they received a supplementary request from the State prosecutors. “There is nothing that warrants its introduction, no consultation with the defense. The State should know that the purported supplementary affidavit in fact is a void document. Today we do not come to discuss any supplementary response,” he said. Ngakaagae argued that the defense and its clients have had enough of the State amending its charge sheet in every mention.

“My clients have been appearing before this court since 2017 and we on charge number five in a space of one and a half years,” he contended. The exasperated Ngakaagae argued that his clients have on several occasions denied by the State to take a plea. “The first appearance was a one count charge sheet on money laundering. We asked to plead, the State refused. Second was an amended Zimbabwean charge sheet for money laundering, the State still denied my clients to take a plea. We cried to this court that we be prosecuted but they resisted.”

He further stressed: “Then came a Botswana charge sheet (65 counts in total), we came before this court, we asked to plead. We did not resist despite increase and departure of the first charge sheet. Charge number four, 164 counts came now an esteemed and learned friend Abrahams [Shaun] now a South African charge sheet.” Ngakaagae told the court that the continuous change of prosecutors in this matter has delayed the case even further. He argued that each counsel brings their own charge and brings their own narrative.

“There should be an end to this. This matter has ceased to be about law but about counsels and what they prefer. Between now and then things have changed, the question is should an accused person be chasing after changing charges all the time?”
The defense attorneys stated that their clients have therefore made a decision to have the matter quashed.

“Our respectful submission in this case may be thrown out, and my clients be acquitted of the charges. In all their papers the state has failed to explain why they refused to give us further particularities and they have yet to explain why they did that in contempt of the court. The confiscation offense is not stated. How is the accused to know what the confiscation charge means if they are not told. Unoda Mack, who forms part of the defense attorneys also shared Ngakaagae’s sentiments.

“We submit that the state failed to provide answers and proper documents. They may say they have delivered eight files, but I doubt they are before the court. Our request for further particularities was based on the question, how was the money transacted? And the only response we got from the state was we do not know. Therefore the entire charge sheet should be quashed accordingly,” Mack also submitted. When he took the stand, State advocate Shaun Abrahams described to the court that the case has not been easy.

“This was not an easy investigation. It was a difficult and long one by the DCEC. More charges were bound to increase with time, you uncover new things,” he said. In his heads of arguments, Abrahams argued that there is a list of witnesses that the prosecution intents to call, pleading with the court to dismiss the motion to have the case quashed. “The matter has advanced to a stage where we are ready to commit the accused to the High Court,” he argued.  

State Prosecutor Ernest Mosate of the Directorate of the directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) also argued that the magistrate should have in mind what the effects of quashing the charges are and what purpose will be achieved from quashing these charges.  “The court must balance the interests of both parties. We want this matter to proceed. We are ready for trial. Therefore we submit that may the application to quash the charges be dismissed.”  

He was however interrupted by magistrate Mathaka who lashed that the state cannot say they are ready for trial when they keep on amending their charge sheet every mention. “Where is the readiness there? You are never ready, today you are here tomorrow you are there. Your charges keep on giving birth to other charges,” the magistrate said.

Ngakaagae dismissed the state’s argument: “If you are not ready go back, and try get your house in order. You’ve never been ready that is why they denied my clients to take the plea. Theirs is a dead case and that is the sad reality with no escape. This case belongs to the archives.” The ruling will be delivered on the 18th July 2019.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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