Miss Plus Size Universe Botswana organisers, Fab Fast Collections have moved to drop reigning queen, Mmangaka Coreen Tumagole in favour of Natasha Tshephang Olopeng, who is the pageant’s reigning second princess. Tumagole was to represent the country in Trinidad and Tobago on March 4 this year.
Interestingly, Olopeng is said to be the youngest daughter of Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng. The same ministry is believed to have sponsored the event that was staged last year October in Gaborone. It is not yet clear whether it would sponsor the contestant’s trip to Trinidad and Tobago.
A statement released by Fab Fast Collections Pty (Ltd) on behalf of the event organiser, Gorata Kekgethile and Miss Plus Size Universe Botswana, the company announced that, “Due to unfortunate circumstances that we have been aware of regarding our client, we would like to apologise to all our sponsors and supports for substituting her. Botswana shall be represented by Natasha Tshepang Olopeng who was the 2nd Princess. This decision was not based on the director but the sponsors.”
When reached for comment, Kekgethegile revealed to this publication that Tumagole was dropped because of her behaviour and failing to meet some of her contractual agreements like attending gym sessions. According to Tumagole, the news came as a surprise to her. In fact, she learnt that she would not be going to Trinidad and Tobago on Monday this week, through a cellphone message from Kekgethegile.
“We were supposed to meet Orange Botswana together, who we were trying to lure as sponsors, but I got a text message from her (Kekgethegile) saying she would not be going with me,” she explained. The text message, seen by WeekendPost reads, “Morning I don’t think going to Orange together is a good idea since I want to give you termination of contract, however I still need to meet you to discuss this.”
However, the duo then met on Wednesday afternoon where Kekgethegile gave Tumagole the official termination letter which states that the reasons for termination include among others, failure to meet the specified weight of 112 kg, social media misrepresentation and communication problems.
The letter also states that she must return the crown and tiara as well as the Queen’s sash. At the same meeting, Kekgethegile, according to Tumagole said that they would still continue working together and that she would represent the country at Miss Plus Size International in Beijing on April 22nd.
Surprisingly, weight was never a problem initially. During auditions, the specifications were that contestants should be size 36 and above. After crowning, Tumagole was to attend gym sessions to ‘tone up.’ But Kekgethegile insisted that “She hasn’t lost weight so she doesn’t qualify in Trinidad and Tobago.”
She however declined to give any further information when pressed further as to when they learnt that the queen would have to lose some weight. In a pageant setup, should the reigning Queen be recalled, or be unable to continue with her duty, the immediate substitute is the 1st Princess not the second Princess. Gabby Mochudi who is 1st Princess should have taken over, however, according to Kekgethegile, Mochudi cannot take up the duty as she has lost weight and does not meet the criteria. She chose to not comment further on the issue.
Shockingly, Mochudi was clueless about the latest developments and said she was never contacted by Kekgethegile with regards to the issue. She denied having lost any weight since the crowning. “As far as I know I have not lost any weight and I still meet the criteria to compete at the international stage,” she said.
According to Tumagole, she and the organisers have always experienced problems, particularly with Kekgethegile. She alleges that all hell broke loose when she demanded to be paid the outstanding balance of her prize money. The Prize money was set at P10 000 for the overall winner but she maintains that she has only been given P7 000 which she received in instalments.
“But I have learnt that Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture who were the main sponsors have released the payout cheque,” she said. “I have done nothing wrong; my problem is my ability to voice out my opinion. This is unfair business and breach of contract that I have penned down with them,” the recalled queen stated.
According to the contract signed by the two parties it was agreed that the contract can be terminated in case “She is wearing curlers, sponge, paper, rods or any other kind of hair- setters, or whatsoever when going out in public or failing to conceal any tattoos or getting new ones.”
She further told this publication that she would not take the issue lying down as she intends to file for an urgent application for breach of contract and defamation of character. She highlighted that, while she was aware she was to attend gym sessions to tone up and keep fit, she did attend some but stopped only after a foot injury and was to commence this month (January), a fact the organisers were aware of.
“What is disheartening is the fact that I worked hard to lure in more sponsors and right now I’m not even sure how much I raised, so Olopeng will be using my monies,” she said. At press time, Natasha was reportedly in South Africa, and a WhatsApp message was sent to her but she ignored it, choosing instead to call Kekgethegile to inform her of the message. Kekgethegile in turn charged at Tumagole accusing her of giving out Natasha’s contacts.
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.