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BDC clash with squatters over land ownership

Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) is preparing to evict defiant squatters in a certain piece of land in Block 5, Gaborone following a lengthy consultation process that has not borne fruits, WeekendPost has learnt. The contested land is located behind Grand Palm hotel, and extends to the border which separates Block 5 and Mogoditshane.

BDC Head of Corporate Affairs and Strategy Boitshwarelo Lebang, has affirmed that the land belongs to BDC and that it is owned by a 100 percent BDC subsidiary, Residential Holdings (Pty) Ltd. She indicated that the corporation has supporting documents as proof of ownership. Lebang said the land, which measures 92.59 hectares in area was acquired was acquired in 2003 from the state.

BDC spokesperson stated that there was a compensation offered to those who voluntarily agreed to vacate the land but refused to disclose the kind of compensation offered to the affected people.  “The illegal occupants were consulted and given enough time to relocate the property. Some occupants vacated while others remained,” said Lebang.  

“The Corporation has had a series of engagement sessions with the remaining occupants to vacate the land as some developments were planned to take place on the land. These developments have now commenced.”  Lebang revealed that mixed use of developments are planned for the area and already a boundary wall construction has commenced. Some residents who spoke to this publication claim to live in fear as demolition of their property could leave them homeless anytime.

Some hopes that the matter will at least in the end be resolved in consideration of their welfare. There is however a contrasting view on the ownership of the land from those who occupy it. Some claim the piece of land used to be a privately owned farm. The occupants also indicate that they have occupied the disputed land in 1990, 13 years before BDC came into picture. In an interview with one of the occupants, Eba Sethole, she indicated that certain Mr Sefodi, who have since died used to own the land and sold part of the land to them.

“It is unfortunate that we bought the land back then when documentation wasn’t so popular, that is why only the initial owners can attest on our behalf,” she said. She further stated that when they first started residing in the land it was just a bush. Today the land is now a settlement with houses built in corrugated iron sheets and few houses built in modern structures. The 63 year-old Sethole stated that she is one of the first residents to dwell in the land, mentioning that their case with BDC emerged in 2003, when eviction threats started being thrown at them.

“We remained unshaken because we knew we own the land, court cases were piled on us but they just never bore any fruit; we are still here today,” said the defiant Sethole. Sethole said after BDC started threatening them, some residents moved to seek shelter elsewhere. Initially, according to Sethole, there were 49 occupants back then but now 41 remains, hoping for a positive outcome.

According to Sethole, BDC keeps calling meetings between them, their Councillor, Rhoda Sekgororwane and council representative’s and in all the meetings, BDC still insist the land is theirs. “Our councillor [Sekgororwane] has been on her toes since this case materialised, we are constantly slapped with warnings that we have 14 days to evict the place,” she said.  She said the last warning summoning them to evict the place was last year November which denoted that they had seven days to leave the place.

In her capacity as the sitting councillor for Block 5, Sekgororwane told this publication that, her concern is for BDC to resolve the matter considering how their eviction could impact the occupants. She stated that if the eviction is to materialise, the least BDC can do is to allocate land to the residents somewhere lawfully. “We have been going back and forth with this case; we have met with BDC head of corporate affairs and strategy officer Boitshwarelo Lebang and their lawyer Tebogo Sebego to try to find resolution to this matter,” Sekgororwane said.

Sekgororwane, who is a member of opposition Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) stated that the last time she talked to Lebang and Sebego they requested the number of residents staying within the area, and their full particulars. She said she pleaded with them to remember to be a considerate and caring nation as per the national vision. The Councillor told this publication that the dispute is known by various stakeholder including Ministry of Lands, Local Government and some of the Head chiefs.

Rhoda said some chiefs are even willing to find land within their areas to allocate to the affected residents but only limited by lack of authority. The area which used to be known as Ko-Motseng does not have water supply and residents depend on buying water for survival.

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021
Morwaeng

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.

Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021
Bokamoso

Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.

The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.

According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.

Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead.
According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.

“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.

The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.

The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.

Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.

Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty.  “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.

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