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Court of Appeal clears controversial PI’d Jerry Chitube

Controversial former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Youth Executive Committee Chairperson Contender Jerry Chitube has been cleared of criminal activities in Botswana.  

Chitube is a Zambian national who was declared a prohibited immigrant after he raised eye brows as a surprise runner for the BDP Youth Wing congress in Masunga raising some shock waves in the party. At the time Chitube was little known in the party but splashed a lot of cash and commanded massive respect until the February 2015 when security agents pounced on him as he readied himself for the BDP youth league chairmanship ballot vote.

Information turned up suggests that the Zambian master spy, who was also linked to the national secret agency Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), had infiltrated the BDP and had striking ambition that rocket much higher than the position of chairperson of the BDP Youth League. He claimed that the BDP was grooming him to be president. Local media was awash with news that thereafter the contentious Chitube was deported after alleged corrupt deals with some senior ruling BDP members.

Before deportation, a criminal trial was registered on the 17th May 2014 in which two of the witnesses in their statements “implicated Chitube as a key player in committing an offence of obtaining (huge sums of money) by false pretences” and as a person to whom they handed the sums of money to.

In the case that just ended in the highest court in the land last week, the appellants; Moment Chidube, Biki Ishmael Kadimo and Thabiso Mokgadi and several others are facing a criminal trial before the Magistrate’s court on several offences related to and arising from a criminal enterprise in which a company named Lodisa (Pty) Ltd was allegedly defrauded of substantial sums of money and one of its officers robbed.

At the heart of the appeal was the issue of whether the State has violated the appellants right to a fair trial enshrined under section 10(2) (e) of the constitution by excluding Chitube on the matter as he was deported. When arguing the matter, Chitube’s attorney Advocate Mpho Morapedi pointed out that although Chitube was implicated as a key offender he was neither cited as an accused nor listed as one of the prosecution witnesses.

Counsel submitted that as Chitube was a key role player but was neither charged nor listed as a witness the defence intended to call him as their witnesses. He informed the court that it was common cause that Chitube was no longer in the jurisdiction he having been declared a prohibited immigrant and deported from the country. He sought an undertaking from the prosecution for Chitube to be allowed back into the country to give evidence on behalf of the defence should the defence need him.  

When making a ground breaking judgement on the marathon case on Friday, Court of Appeal panel of 5 Judges; Justice Ian Kirby, Justice Isaac Lesetedi, Justice Singh Walia, Justice Jacobus Brand and Justice Craig Howie ruled that: “in such cases there is no prejudice which can be shown let alone resulting in an unfair trial.”

The Judges continued: “the appellants have failed on this test, the referral stood to fail and the High Court having so found, it is unnecessary to consider whether the High Court was in error in finding that the requirements for the grant of a permanent stay of prosecution had not been me by the appellants.”

They highlighted that it has not been shown that Chitube having been shown to be a necessary and material witness required by the president for restricted re-entry in this regard and if so that such has been refused, or that such an application if made is bound to fail. “For it will be an abuse of right to put the State to expense in bringing from abroad a prohibited immigrant who may either be unwilling to give evidence e or whose evidence is not material or favorable to the party seeking to call it.”


It will even be inimical to the rule of law and the public interest to permanently stay a criminal prosecution on such serious charges merely because of the absence of a witness whose evidence may not be material to the trial let alone favourable to an accused who merely alleges that he will be prejudiced by the absence of the witness, the Judges insisted.

Essentially three grounds were advanced on the appeal, which cleared Chitube that “High Court fundamentally misdirected itself in law in holding that the appellants failed to demonstrate that their constitutional right to a fair trial will be prejudiced by the unavailability of Jerry Chitube.”

In addition the CoA ruled that the High Court erred in holding that the materiality of Jerry Chitube has not been sufficiently traversed to enable the court to fathom and determine the materiality and favourability of such testimony to the appellants’ case. Advocate Mpho Garebatho and Lore Morapedi stood in for the appellants while the State was represented by Gonayaone Ketlhapetswe. Meanwhile Chitume still remains a prohibited immigrant.

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BODANSA strikes gold with a handsome P45K windfall from Turnstar Holdings

27th February 2024

The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.

At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.

“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirĂ©e at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.

This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.

He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.

Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.

Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.

 

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Government of Botswana yet to sign, ratify the UN-CRPD

26th February 2024

In Botswana, a beacon of democracy in Africa, the right to participate in the political discourse is a cornerstone of its societal structure. It’s an avenue through which citizens shape the rules and systems that govern their everyday lives. Despite this, recent studies indicate that Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) are notably absent from political dialogues and face substantial hurdles in exercising their democratic freedoms.

Research within the nation has uncovered that IWDs encounter difficulties in engaging fully with the political process, with a pronounced gap in activities beyond mere voting. The call for environments that are both accessible and welcoming to IWDs is loud, with one participant, who has a physical disability, spotlighting the absence of ramps at voting venues and the dire need for enhanced support to facilitate equitable involvement in the electoral process.

The challenges highlighted by the study participants pinpoint the structural and social obstacles that deter IWDs from participating wholly in democracy. The inaccessibility of voting facilities and the lack of special accommodations for people with disabilities are critical barriers. Those with more significant or intellectual disabilities face even steeper challenges, often feeling marginalized and detached from political engagement.

To surmount these obstacles, there is an urgent appeal for Botswana to stride towards more inclusive and accessible political stages for IWDs. This necessitates a committed effort from both the government and relevant entities to enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of IWDs to partake in the political framework. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the political landscape among IWDs, alongside integrating inclusive practices within political entities and governmental bodies, is crucial.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing an inclusive political environment, Botswana can live up to its democratic ideals, ensuring every citizen, regardless of ability, can have a substantive stake in the country’s political future.

 

 

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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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