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Who really owns Bonnington farm?

Why would the silos be erected in the middle of the city? Just as you approach Bonnigton shopping complex in front of Grand Palm Hotel, along the Segoditshane River, exists two silos and some ancient buildings of European origin. The sparking conversations surrounding the ownership of the Bonnington farms would later be resolved by Phillip Segadika, Head of the Archaeology and Monuments Division at the Botswana National Museum in a time capsule. As the dialogue continues on who owns the farms, the name Carolyn Slaughter emerges, writes DAVE BAAITSE.  

In an article he wrote in one of the local newspapers in 2014, Philip Segadika says it has been a belated but welcome upsurge coming decades after its neighboring Broadhurst Farm established its name as a Gaborone residential suburb and industrial area. When the Department of National Museum and Monuments, or more precisely, the Minister, first declared the Bonnington Silos a National Monument in 2006, it was more an artifice of faith than a fully informed intervention.

The immediate motivation for listing the site as a National Monument was more to protect it while research ensued. Hence, the initial reasons were tinkered with factual errors. Given the scarcity and associated scramble for land in Gaborone, some urgent action was needed because the presence of the farm house and silos could no longer be guaranteed by its location on the protected shores of the Segoditshane River, as the tenacious construction of a mall in the neighbourhood had demonstrated.

In his submissions Segadika says long before the National Museum proposed the legal protection of the Bonnington farm, the site had been immortalised in ink by two protectorate time characters. One was a onetime successful farmer and builder of the farm house and silos, Daniel Henry Le Cordeur, while the other is Carolyn Slaughter, who was a frequent visitor to the farm as a little girl, and whose colonial administrator parents lived at the village suburb of Gaberones.

According to Philip Segadika, on an unspecified date in 1952 when ‘Churchill was the Premier of Britain’ and the  ‘Mau Mau’ wanted to ‘oust all Europeans from Kenya’, Le Cordeur took his type- writer and composed a two page letter that he put in a time capsule and stuck under his newly constructed bath. The time capsule, turned by time and dereliction into a broken bottle whose paper content was half spoilt by the elements, was uncovered in 2008 by a team led by Victor Mokobi and Philip Segadika.

This is the letter that helped them connect with the Le Cordeur children, received several artifacts that were used in the farm in the late 1940s and 50s, and, by snowball effect, connected with Carolyn Slaughter. According to the time capsule, Dan Le Cordeur bought the Bonnington farm in 1944 from Smith and Lamb. By 1952 Bonnington Farm, exported cattle to Johannesburg, and operated four stores at Bonnington, Kgale Station, the Quarry and Gabane.

In fact, Dan Le Cordeur is the man whose quarry shop led to the infamous ‘Tsolamosese’ story and associated location where Gabane women faced a bush rapist as they walked to the quarry and Kgale stores before Dan opened the Gabane store. “If Dan Le Cordeur’s epistle tells us about the fears, interests and times of the farmer and businessman that he was, it is Carolyn Slaughter whose books succor a glimpse into the bright and darker sides of Bonnington.

And, it seems Slaughter has nothing to lose because in Before the Knife and Dreams of the Kalahari she not only lays bare the demons that troubled her own family, including sexual molestation, but she goes at length to expose the skeletons of prejudice, racism and abuse at Bonnington.

As an insider, she especially gives the reader an appreciation of the social drama that characterized lonely colonial masters and their families. While visiting Gaborone in 2014 Slaughter did several things including voluntary participation in the developments of a storyline for Bonnington farm open air museum and a talk at the University”, said Segadika.

The archeologists Segadika explained that, yes besides the farm house and the silos, it is a thrill to connect with the stories, owners and users of the site in the Le Cordeur family, Carolyn Slaughter and that magnificent story teller, 94 year old, Mack Ephraim Molatlhwa of Gabane, a trusted aid of the Le Cordeurs.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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