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State appoints expelled SA Director of Prosecutions in NPF case

Fresh information reaching this publication is that the State has engaged South Africa veteran lawyer and expelled National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) case.

This was after Monday accused persons in the NPF case; Kenneth Kerekang, Bakang Seretse, the Kebonang’s twins Sadique and Zein, Kago Setimela and Mogomotsi Seretse appeared Chief Magistrate Masilo Mathake and the prosecution applied for postponement on the grounds that they want to engage “a senior counsel.”  It was revealed by sources that the “senior counsel” in this case is none other than former SA senior prosecutor Abrahams.

 After serving in the prosecution for years, Abrahams was fired as National Director of Public Prosecutions of South Africa in 2017. He left the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa under a cloud, after the Constitutional Court of South Africa found his appointment by former SA President Jacob Zuma was unconstitutional.  Abrahams’ downfall came after he was seen as an ally to Zuma who would be complicit in helping the former President dodge a myriad of corruption charges that followed him to his demise.

After his expulsion, Abrahams vowed that he will not be lost in the legal fraternity and his biggest task will be on Botswana chambers as the lead state lawyer in the NPF case. It is further alleged that Abrahams was second choice for the State as initially celebrated South African advocate Gerrie Nel preferred was preferred.  However, it is alleged that Nel rejected the state after his preliminary analysis revealed inconsistency and selectiveness on the NPF case.

Nel shot to stardom when he successfully prosecuted South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius for murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a rollercoaster marathon criminal case which started in 2014 and ended in 2016. Before the internationally publicized Pistorius case, Nel who is reported to be earning about P1.2 million a year put late former SA Police Commissioner Jackie Selibe in prison. It is revealed that the state had sought the services of a senior counsel as a way of upping the chance on the corruption case. 

Sources within the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have revealed that the State has been frustrated in its efforts to crack the case and is under political pressure to get convictions on the accused.  The new administration of President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to have earmarked the NPF as its ‘trophy’ in the fight against corruption, and has vowed to throw everything at the accused in the NPF.

“The DPP and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) are trying hard to get a conviction on the current accused whilst wanting to protect some key government officials in the case.  And that is where the difficulty is. Furthermore, evidence and a series of events unfortunately negate the conspiracy that the State alleges.” Another plea brought before Chief Magistrate Mathake on Monday was an application by the prosecution to amend the charges in order to add more accused persons and charges.

After apologizing to the court and accused for delay on the case, Deputy Director of DPP Wesson Manchwe said a postponement would be for the long-term interest of the accused as some charges will be removed, and some added so that they can face one consolidated trial instead of many cases.

But, the magistrate would not entertain the application, following an opposition from the defence team. Senior Attorneys Unoda Mack and Kgosietsile Ngakaagae had urged the court to dismiss the application arguing that from their expectations they were there for the main business of the day, which was for further and better particularity.  They argued that the State seemed not to comprehend the extent of prejudice on the accused because they have become accustomed to delays and postponements.

It was then that Magistrate Masilo dismissed the State and ordered the parties to argue another leg of further particularities while still waiting to join more accused persons. “You cannot postpone the entire proceedings. Deal with what you have while still waiting to pursue another aspect.”

Further particularity

The defence submissions centered on the fact the charges were insufficient, incomplete, confusing and lacking on substance and truth. They further said the State was hiding behind the reason that they will provide evidence on trial.  “In criminal cases, you can’t ambush accused persons.  The Louis Nchindo versus the State set precedent on the obligations of the State to provide evidence before an accused,” Ngakaagae argued.

“But when it comes to providing evidence in the civil proceedings to grab assets, the State is quick to provide uncorroborated documents to make their case,” added Ngakaagae who further moved that the charges be quashed. In their response, the State was very limited apart from saying that the argument was wrongly before the magistrate, saying the matter will be committed to the High Court where the particularity aspects will be argued.

The ruling will be delivered on March 22.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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