In a rare gesture, Botswana government officials have reportedly gagged the Sebina victim’s family in the matter concerning the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Councillor for Sebina ward Kemmonye Amon.
Amon has impregnated a 16 year old girl schooling at Nata Senior Secondary School who hails from Sebina village, the matter which he also confirmed to the Police and the media.
On Saturday morning, Botswana Network on Ethics, law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) in conjunction with Ndadi law Firm discovered that, for unclear reasons, the government has restricted the young girl (victim)’s family, and have instructed them to not talk about the issue with anyone.
“I must say that the concerned family did receive us, they gave us a warm reception. However they were guarded. They were under government restrictions from government officials not to talk to anyone. They were informed that by them continuing to talk to people then they are basically diminishing prospects of a conviction been secured,” a Managing Partner at Ndadi Law Firm boldly told the press briefing this week in Gaborone.
According to Ndadi, it was therefore very difficult, in their fact finding mission, for them to get the child’s family to open up to them. Nonetheless after some rigorous persuasion and after numerous phone calls by the concerned family to other appropriate family members like uncles, he revealed, the green light was given for them to then engage with the family.
It is understood that from that point onwards revelations were made by the family in a much more comfortable and relaxed manner as they managed to open up to the team and told them of their frustrations; their fears and the pressure that they are facing as a family on account of this incident.
It is understood that the person who was much more intimately connected to the issues in the family was the aunt. Ndadi pointed out: “she is the one who led the talks between us and them, and she started off by telling us that on 26 April, they received a call from Nata Senior Secondary School, advising that there is a situation regarding their child, that the child tells them that she is pregnant, and tests have been done to confirm the pregnancy.”
When recounting the torment dubbed “inside the trip to Sebina,” Ndadi highlighted that the child’s family was then requested to come to school the following day which they did, and upon arrival at their school they were told the child had said she had been given a lift by a BX driver on the 13th of February and along the way the driver raped her. The version was later, according to him, found to be unconceivable during police investigations and further interrogation.
When hard pressed the girl is said to have somersaulted and confessed to the police that she had not been raped, but that the pregnancy was the result of a sexual encounter with a councillor widely known in the village. He said when the police informed the parents of that revelation it came as a shock to the parents and they immediately expressed their anger and displeasure about it, and in their disbelief they went home to gather their thoughts and to see how they can overcome or face the situation at hand.
The following day, Ndadi related, a meeting was arranged between the parents and the said Councillor by the police and at that meeting the police enquired from the Councillor whether indeed he is aware of the allegations made by the child and “without much ado the councilor confirmed that indeed he has had sexual relations with the child, and that he is responsible for the pregnancy.”
The one-of-a-kind attorney continued: ‘‘we understand he further went on to talk about how he will take responsibility in so far as giving the child and the family whatever they need. He also told the police that he did not want to see his name in the papers, but we understand he did not disclose what papers; whether the papers in reference to the newspapers or the papers in reference to the police statements. So we can only speculate because we could not get confirmation of what papers in this particular context was referred to,’’ Ndadi lamented.
Councillor Amon attempted to have sex with her before she turned 16
In his account, the attorney said the girl informed them that there was a time in December that the Councilor, before she turned 16, attempted to have sexual intercourse with her. “Fortunately for the councilor and fortunately for the girl, she was going through her monthly period, and nothing could happen that time. I am saying fortunately for both of them because, if it could have happened then a case of defilement would have taken place as it would have happened in December 2015.”
Sexual contact took place six times, Councilor broke the child’s virginity
It is understood that from January 2016 onwards, “sexual relations took place between them, not once, not twice, not thrice, but according to her at least six times, between the month of January and February 2016.” She says she lost her virginity to the Councillor, and the Councillor is aware that she was a virgin.
‘‘When I asked her why did not say no to him, she said “I have always said no to my peers but I did not know how to say no to an elderly person.” (ke ne kesaitse gore mogolo o tewa jang gotwe nnyaa. Go ne go le thata mo go nna ke tswa kgakala ke gana balekane bame.)
“And this is a leader that is known in the community. I was looking at that poor innocent young girl who looked thirteen to me, and asked her did the councilor ever asked how old you are, she said no. It’s a tiny looking girl,” Ndadi said.
Gov’t medical examinations report of the child not availed to the family
The private attorney highlighted that the child was taken for medical examinations by the parents on the 28th of April and it became apparent with his conversations with the parents that the medical examinations report was to date not been availed to the family, despite a passage of more than three weeks.
“They say they have been moved from pillar to post regarding the findings of the report. In fact the school has also wanted to see the report before the child could return to school. The child eventually returned to school on the 2nd May 2016, without the report as requested for by the school.”
Concerned that the medical report was not availed to the parents, BONELA/Ndadi teams took the decision with the parents to arrange for the child to be assessed and evaluated by a private medical personnel in Francistown, at their organisations’ cost. Ndadi recounted: “we did take the child to a leading gynecologist in Francistown and we were interested in ascertaining how far along the pregnancy is, and whether the child is HIV positive or negative.”
According to the human rights lawyer, they have been given permission by the family to disclose the HIV status of the child and they did so. He revealed details that they were able to establish that the child is 4 months and 1 day old (that is by Monday this week). “So it therefore means that this pregnancy took place around 13th February, the day that she says initially that she was raped by a BX driver. So at that point in time the child had already turned sixteen when the pregnancy took place,” he asserted as a matter of fact while implying that in terms of the law the defilement case automatically falls off.
No prospects of defilement case for Councilor Amon
“So the possibility of a defilement charge was then immediately excluded,” the lawyer stressed. The outstanding concern was then the HIV status and she tested negative,’’ he confirmed to a thunderous applause from the audience which also included ‘I shall not forget’ campaign team and some politicians and gender activists. “That was a huge relieve to all of us, and I got a high five from the girl reminding me of my daughter, Lindani so it was a pleasant moment because we were concerned about the possibility of her being HIV infected as well.”
Ndadi continued with the tale: now regarding our conversations with the child, yes she did confirm that indeed she was born on 29th December 1999. “She met the councilor on December 15th in 2015, when she was sent by the parents to buy milk at the councillor’s shop, and after buying milk she was approached by the councillor outside, who asked her for her cell phone number.’’
‘‘Confused and not knowing what to do, she then availed her cell number to the councillor, and that phone number immediately led to numerous calls and texts to the young girl,’’ he emphasized.
BDP Coucillor violated Children’s Act, will face charges
As a way forward, Ndadi asserted that they they are satisfied that there is a prima facie case to be made out against the councilor in respect to violating the Children’s Act in so far as it prohibits children being engaged in sexual activities that are “immoral.” The Children’s Act prohibits that. “We are of the view that engaging in sexual relations with a man who is more than two times older than you, married and without using protection qualifies to be an immoral sexual activity.”
The human rights lawyer told the meeting that they have also examined the Children’s Act and it also clearly spells out that giving children alcohol is wrong. The Councilor allegedly infested the child with alcoholic drinks. He submitted: “So we are of the view that possible charges can be made out and we have informed the police of our findings, and we have urged them to look into prosecuting him using the Children’s Act because as far as we are concerned, no charge has been levelled against any person using some of this remarkable provisions in the Children’s Act.”
‘‘We say these provisions are remarkable because they really tried to protect the best interest of the child, but unfortunately there is no enforcement, he said, taking a sharp shot at the police adding that some don’t even know about the existence of the Children’s Act.
‘‘The charges to the offences I mentioned range from two years to ten years imprisonment and to a fine of 20 000 to 50 000 or both. So it can be a fine or it can be imprisonment, or both of them. So if the police successfully prosecute, then they will be some form of justice,’’ Ndadi submitted.
The family will not be bought, wants justice
‘‘The family is calling for justice, they have assured me that they have not been bought,’’ Ndadi stated on his account of the Sebina trip. The lawyer also disclosed that the young girl had told him that the family was angry and concerned about the issue. Since the anger is directed at the councillor, Ndadi said he does not see any conniving between the family and the councillor.
The United States (US) will on the 3rd of November 2020 chose between incumbent Donald Trump of the Republicans and former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democrats amid the coronavirus pandemics, which has affected how voting is conducted in the world’s biggest economy.
Trump (74) seeks re-election after trouncing Hillary Clinton in 2016, while Biden (77) is going for his first shot as Democratic nominee after previous unsuccessful spells.
US Presidents mostly succeed in their re-election bid, but there have been nine individuals who failed to garner a second term mandate, the latest being George W H. Bush, a Republican who served as the 41st US President between 1989 and 1993.
Dr Mark Rozell, a Dean of the School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia describes the complex US electoral system that will deliver the winner at the 3rd November elections.
“The founders of our Republic de-centralised authority significantly in creating our constitutional system, which means that they gave an enormous amount of independent power and authority to State and local governments,” Dr Rozell told international media on Elections 2020 Virtual Reporting Tour.
Unlike parliamentary democracies, like Botswana the United States does not have all of the national government elected in one year. They do not have what is commonly called mandate elections where the entire federal government is elected all in one election cycle giving a “mandate” to a particular political party to lead, and instead US have what are called staggered elections, elections over time.
The two house Congress, members of the House of Representatives have two-year long terms of office. Every two years the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, but senators serve for six years and one third of the Senate is elected every two years.
For this election cycle, US citizens will be electing the President and Vice
President, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the open or contested seats in the Senate, whereas two thirds are still fulfilling the remainder of their terms beyond this year.
An important facet of US electoral system to understand given the federalism nature of the republic, the US elect presidents State by State, therefore they do not have a national popular vote for the presidency.
“We have a national popular vote total that says that Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump or in Year 2000 that Al Gore got a half million more votes than George W. Bush, but we have what is called a State by State winner takes all system where each State is assigned a number of electors to our Electoral College and the candidate who wins the popular vote within each State takes 100 percent of the electors to the Electoral College,” explained Dr Rozell.
“And that is why mathematically, it is possible for someone to win the popular vote but lose the presidency.”
Dr Rozell indicated that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won very large popular majorities in some big population States like California, but the system allows a candidate to only have to win a State by one vote to win a 100 percent of its electors, the margin does not matter.
“Donald Trump won many more States by smaller margins, hence he got an Electoral College majority.”
Another interesting features by the way of US constitutional system, according to Dr Rozell, but extremely rare, is what is called the faithless elector.
“That’s the elector to the Electoral College who says, ‘I’m not going to vote the popular vote in my State, I think my State made a bad decision and I’m going to break with the popular vote,’’ Dr Rozell said.
“That’s constitutionally a very complicated matter in our federalism system because although the federal constitution says electors may exercise discretion, most States have passed State laws making it illegal for any elector to the Electoral College to break faith with the popular vote of that State, it is a criminal act that can be penalized if one is to do that. And we just had an important Supreme Court case that upheld the right of the states to impose and to enforce this restriction”
There are 538 electors at the Electoral College, 270 is the magic number, the candidate who gets 270 or more becomes President of the United States.
If however there are more candidates, and this happens extremely rarely, and a third candidate got some electors to the Electoral College denying the two major party candidates, either one getting a majority, nobody gets 270 or more, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and the House of Representatives votes among the top three vote getters as to who should be the next President.
“You’d have to go back to the early 19th century to have such a scenario, and that’s not going to happen this year unless there is a statistical oddity, which would be a perfect statistical tie of 269 to 269 which could happen but you can just imagine how incredibly unlikely that is,” stated Dr Rozell.
BLUE STATES vs RED STATES
Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.
Many states have populations that are so heavily concentrated in the Democratic party or the Republican party that there is really no competition in those states.
California is a heavily Democratic State, so is New York and Maryland. It is given that Joe Biden will win those states. Meanwhile Texas, Florida and Alabama are republicans. So, the candidates will spent no time campaigning in those states because it is already a given.
However there are swing states, where there is a competition between about five and 10 states total in each election cycle that make a difference, and that is where the candidates end up spending almost all of their time.
“So it ends up making a national contest for the presidency actually look like several state-wide contests with candidates spending a lot of time talking about State and local issues in those parts of the country,” said Dr Rozell.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.