In 1999 a man from Mogoditshane with claims to have a cure for HIV/AIDS approached the University of Botswana (UB) and asked researchers to examine his product and verify his claim. This man had attracted a significant following and many believed in his ‘cure’.
The idea of an HIV cure coming from an uneducated man living in a village was ridiculous, and as such no funds were spared for the investigation. To Dr. David Tanyala Takuwa, an analytical chemist and lecturer at UB, that was a terrible oversight.
Though it was clear to him that the village man’s herbs could not be a cure, he figured that there must be substances in the herbs with some effect on HIV. Analysis of the supposed cure might have given insight on compounds with activity on HIV, possibly leading to development of refined treatment products. However, no research was ever done and knowledge of the Mogoditshane man’s herbs was lost.
Today Dr. Takuwa focuses all his scientific acumen into investigating traditional herbal knowledge. He has filtered through forests of information from his laboratory showing that the lore of herbalists should not be easily dismissed. Currently, he has three PhD students doing research which will develop methods to identify indigenous plants with therapeutic properties.
One of the students, Margaret Mkambamkhami’s investigations is focused on researching on diabetes. Anitha Immaculate is investigating anticancer properties, and Abibu Moshood is analysing vitamin content and has collaborated with Mr Kakanda, a herbalist living in Francistown, and are working on producing green chemistry pesticides. The pesticides they are developing unlike synthesized pesticides will not be a pollutant and will thus be safe for the environment.
The greatest challenge Dr. Takuwa has faced so far is lack of funding but that doesn’t discourage him. He is optimistic about the future and certain that more people will come to appreciate the value of research.
President, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama speaking at the African Academy of Science conference in Kasane earlier this year said, “Africans should have more innovations relevant to Africa.” These sentiments, he said have given him some hope.
Also, UB has an initiative for community projects. Through this initiative, members of the community seeking to refine their traditional knowledge with the empiricism of science can be engaged. This initiative however only freely serves those with the desire to empower their communities and not those pursuing their self-interests.
The intellectual property developed through this initiative is retained by the community; the university along with the scientists working at UB make no claim to it. Through this initiative Dr. Takuwa investigated the cosmetic properties of donkey milk. His research led to the production of a whole range of donkey milk products including soaps, lotions, and creams.
Mr Olefile Sebonego, whose keen eye for business had him take interest in donkey milk research, is now working on establishing large scale donkey milk farming in Botswana. He has been successful in Mmathethe, Moshupa, and Francistown; and he is determined to keep going till Botswana becomes an exporter of cosmetic products.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.