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Inside the confidential Matsha students accident report

A confidential report on the horrific truck accident that killed seven form 5 students of Matsha College and left over one Hundred others injured last month was presented before the Kweneng District’s full Council meeting this week.

The report which is said to have been destined to the Office of the President suggests that the accident came about as a result of gross negligence of disgruntled Council staff.

“The welfare officers seem demotivated and mostly have a negative attitude towards their work. It is observed that of those who are supposed to provide care to orphans and the needy are sick in spirits, those meant to benefit from them are thus at risk,” reads part of the report’s preliminary investigation findings.

According to the report, when the Council sent a truck to collect Matsha students, a 65-seater Letlhakeng Sub District bus was in good running condition and could have been used to ferry the students, but was instead diverted to pick Moeding College students.

“The department (Social Welfare) indicated that they only had one bus with 65 seats available at the time of making arrangement for the trip to collect students, this is the bus they set aside to transport Moeding College Students contrary to Letlhakeng Sub Council committee resolution. The mini bus was said to have been at the garage for service,” further revealed the report.

Although the truck was carrying at least 118 students at the time of the accident on the 13th November 2015, the students who were supposed to have been inside the truck were the 74 disadvantaged students who are cared for by the Council’s social welfare department. However since the truck driver maintained that he did not have a list of the students that he was to collect and there was no teacher in sight to supervise the boarding, he had to improvise and carry a load of 123 students together with their belongings in a single truck.

“On the 13th November 2015, the driver was by the school premises of Matsha around 9 o’clock to collect the students. When the driver went to collect the students it is unfortunate that he did not have a list or number of the students that he was to collect. The students boarded the truck and there was no teacher around when they boarded. Upon realising that the students who were boarding the truck were many, the driver attempted to call the office to alert them but could not get hold of the caretaker who was responsible for coordinating the trip. But nonetheless, he states that he left a message with some officer that he got hold of to relay to the Caretaker and advise her that another truck was needed,” further narrated the report.

It further indicated that, the driver then decided to drive slowly with a view and hope that he would meet the other truck along the way to carry some of the students and reduce the load because student were “overcrowded and standing.”

“The truck reached Tshwaane still without any relief vehicle on site. The truck delivered about four students in Tshwaane and proceeded to Letlhakeng. Unfortunately two kilometres before Dutlwe the truck had a tyre burst and overturned injuring 111 students and as a result about 7 students died,” the report explained further.

According to the report, the four students who were left at Tshwaane corroborated the driver’s story that it was him and the lorry attendant who supervised the boarding in the absence of teachers.

However the school head teacher’s defence is that the driver and the lorry driver never presented themselves to the school administration that morning.

The investigators found that there is also too much undue pressure exerted on the Council by Schools to collect students the same day that they close schools as if they are being chased away.

“There is no cordial relations that recognise that students are both the school and the Council’s responsibility,” the investigators observed.

Further, it is revealed that there is poor planning or no planning at all, in that the social welfare department did not have a plan nor had they made any arrangement on time on how to collect the students.

“The S and CD (Social welfare) office did not know that their form 5 students were due to close on the 13th November 2015. The S and CD department only reacted to a letter from Gantsi Senior Secondary School on the 12th November 2015 when the students were due to close on the 13 November 2015,” the report further reveals.

In fact the report states that the coordination of the trips for collection of students has been relegated to a junior officer, a caretaker on B scale, whose assessment of risk and problem solving of situations seems wanting.

“Form 5 RADs students trips was not planned for in advance and was coordinated by a very junior officer at B scale who does not have a voice of authority in line with levels of responsibility,” the report suggests.

On the 5th of March 2015, Letlhakeng Sub Committee resolved that Matsha College and Kang Students be collected by bus while other students are given bus fares. However it was found that this resolution was not communicated to all Council staff.

“Decisions of committee and Council are not communicated to all officers. It is noted specifically that there was a decision by Letlhakeng Sub Committee of the 5th March 2015 which resolved that Matsha students be transported by bus while others be given bus fares. This was not implemented at all and everything done ran contrary to this decision because same was not adequately cascaded,” further states the report.

Nonetheless, the same report further contends that difficult terrains in that part of the country informed the use of trucks to collect students from Matsha College. It states that when the current buses were purchased, due attention was not given to the existing terrains and therefore buses not adapted for such difficult terrains were not purchased.

The report recommended that students should be collected by buses from now onwards and that Councils should purchase and convert trucks into trucking buses in order to access difficult terrains.

“Luggage should never be put together with students in the same vehicle where an assessment indicates that it would pose a risk factor,” the report recommended.

At the time of going to print, at least one student was still under intensive care (ICU) at the Princess Marina hospital in Gaborone when two had been flown to the neighbouring South Africa hospital for further intensive medical procedures.

The Ministry of Health stated this week that in all, seven students were still hospitalised. As of this week according to the Ministry, twenty-nine students have been discharged from Princess Marina hospital.

Initially the hospital is said to have admitted thirty-one (31) students and received seven more from Bokamoso and Gaborone private hospitals. The students were admitted with various injuries including bruises, head injuries, laceration, fractures and others. Over the past few weeks, some have been discharged from hospital.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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