Part of the reason why BCL was closed has been linked to corruption where millions of Pula were siphoned out of the organization – now the mine’s value is under threat because of catastrophic theft at various sites.
As hundreds of former BCL employees vacate company houses and relocate from Selibe Phikwe, some to return back to their respective villages, and others scout for opportunities elsewhere, vandalism and theft on BCL properties escalate every day. Information gathered by WeekendPost indicates that Vandalism and appliances theft at vacant BCL houses is on the rise. According to Selibe Phikwe Police Station Commander, Superintendent Victor Nlebesi, ever since former miners started vacating the houses some residents have embarked on an endeavor to vandalize and unplug valuable electric appliances from the houses.
Nlebesi who commands the area covering Number 3 and 4 Shafts as well as the central Selibe Phikwe which enclaves BCL Houses notes that the appliances targeted by the culprits include, Airconditioniers, geysers, kitchen fitting – mainly stoves. “We can’t quantify the worth of the damage and stolen material as of now, but we estimate it to be hundreds of thousands pulas,” he said.
“We are talking about high quality stoves, top notch air conditioners and electrical appliances made from valuable material stolen in significantly large numbers so far,” he observed. The Station Commander further observes that the appliances and stolen materials are resold here in Selibe Phikwe and surrounding areas at low prices.
“We are investigating the culprits who we believe to be Phikwe residents, and their customers are mechanical workshop operators and industrial dealers,” Nlebesi indicated in an interview with the media this past week. For theft occurring at the mine site, the Station Commander observed that his area of jurisdiction covers the number 3 and 4 shafts while the Number 1 and 2 under the policing of Botshabelo Police station.
According to Superintendent Nlebesi theft at number 3 shaft includes amongst others megawatts batteries, noting that in October alone, just after the decision to cease operation at the mine, over 20 batteries have gone missing. “20 batteries have been stolen from 3 shaft alone, in October alone and mind you this are batteries worth over P12 000 each, that means we looking at a value of over P100 000 worth of theft in October at just one site,” he explained.
For her part Superintendent Gothusamang Badubi, Station Commander of Botshabelo Police station, BCL main site and Shaft number 1 & 2 as well as stores and the lucrative smelter have not escaped the greed of the thieves. Although she provided sketchy information, Badubi observed that tool boxes and equipment are disappearing at the mine sites.
“We have registered that a number of tool boxes are missing at the main stores department,” she said not revealing the quantity of the boxes already stolen. “We are still investigating the matter but figures before us reveal that about 4 copper plates have been stripped from the smelter.” Information gathered by WeekendPost reveal that copper plates are worth hundreds of thousands pulas each with one toolbox as per the current market price sitting at over P16 000 each.
The Station Commander noted that they are working with BCL Security for protection of the company properties. However according to a source close to the investigations and BCL current administration, some within the company’s security may be implicated in the ongoing crime. “Some of the BCL security personnel and staff from the retained 400 are being questioned by the police,” indicated a source who preferred anonymity
BCL was put on provisional liquidation by its main and only shareholder, Botswana Government on October 7 this year, with mining operations halted on that date effective immediately. When addressing thousands of aggrieved workers this year October Tuesday 11th, just a day after Selibe Phikwe woke up to a shock of BCL dissolution, the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi assured gatherers in Selibe Phikwe stadium that afternoon that the government will put in place strict measures to secure the mine properties especially the sites which comprises of a smelter arguably one of the best in the world worth almost 1 billion pula.
Masisi was responding to a cautionary plead from one miner during question and comments session. After his appointment Liquidator, Nigel Dixon Warren of KPMG immediately terminated contracts of over 4000 employees on the 31st of October 2016, with the last full salary received that month. Dixon Warren with the power bestowed upon him retained about 400 employees, mainly from the Human Resource Department, Information Technology, Security and a number of mechanical staff members and engineers for dewatering of the shaft, care and maintenance of the mine.
Dixon-Warren told this publication that time that the mine sites, equipment and properties needed to be protected and kept safe to maintain their value and worth which was an important factor in liquidation during selling and acquisition of the mine by potential new owners. BCL senior staff houses situated at the commonly known as “Tshaba Ntsa” suburbs are worth over 500 million pula alone. And the company is valued at over $800 million; with the most valuable asset being the smelter which was recently refurbished at a cost of over 700 million pula. Efforts to get views from the government enclave and current BCL administration were unsuccessful as Minister Sadique Kebonang’s phone rang unanswered while BCL liquidation team declined commenting on the matter.
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.
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.
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.