In order to bridge the language barrier and make Dukwi Refugee Camp more welcoming for them, the ten Eritrean asylum seekers have enrolled with Skillshare for English lessons as of the beginning last December.
Skillshare is a learning institution that operates as a Non-Government Organization (NGO) within the Dukwi Refugee Camp. And for years, the institution has been offering academic, vocational and technical education to asylum seekers as well as refugees.
Through a sponsorship from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the ten Eritrean footballers have been to learn English for them to understand the common language since it is the first step in making refugee families feel at home.
Senior Regional External Relations Officer with the UNHCR Regional Office for Southern Africa, Tina Ghelli confirmed that the Eritrean asylum seekers are currently attending English classes offered to all refugees in the camp provided by the NGO, Skillshare.
“The Eritrean footballers have access to the language training programmes in the camp, just like all of the refugees in Dukwi,” confirmed Ghelli in a response to a questionnaire send to her by WeekendPost.
Ghelli added that the programme is provided by UNHCR support for language and vocational training to refugees at Dukwi Refugee Camp through their implementing partner in Skillshare.
She said the UNHCR do provide support for English language training classes to refugees in the camp who are in need of such a teaching. It is a not a special programme for the Eritreans only, she added saying those who feel they want to learn English are welcome in the classes.
“Learning English can of course help with communication in the camp as the main medium language in Botswana,” said Ghelli. Besides English training support, she said Eritreans have access to all the services provided in the camp, just like all the refugees.
Some of the Eritrean asylum seekers who talked to this publication said the program will play a significant role helping them as non-native English speakers maneuver the new culture in Botswana.
“The English language is vital for immigrants in the camp because it is the one that brings us together. We are from different nations,” said the Eritrean goalkeeper through a translator while speaking in his native language, Tigrinya.
Not knowing English has been hindering the ten footballers’ ability to adjust to life at Dukwi Refugee Camp and Botswana in general, he said. He said the language barrier was going to leave them vulnerable to discrimination.
The ten players refused to return home after playing a World Cup qualifying match in Botswana last October and are now seeking asylum in the country.
There have been a number of mass defections by Eritrean athletes in recent years. One of the most noticeable was in 2013, when Uganda granted asylum to 15 Eritrean players and their team doctor after they absconded at the end of a football tournament.
Eritrea is notorious for human rights abuses, with torture and slavery both reported by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry report to be commonplace.
The country has also been accused by the UN of forcing its citizens to indefinite national service and of killing people trying to escape abroad. Eritrean government dismissed the UN’s findings as “totally unfounded and devoid of all merit.”
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.