Letlhakane Police Station Commander, Michael Maphephu
LETLHAKANE: The suspect in a gruesome and fatal accident that astonished many and left three siblings dead and one hospitalised in a critical condition at Bokamoso Private Hospital, Mr Mooketsi Bathoeng appeared before Letlhakane Magistrate Queen Latoya Moanga on Wednesday facing three counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of failure to stop at the scene of an accident.
When the 26 year old Xhomo born resident of Letlhakane took to the stand, the murmuring of people in the court room which was filled to full capacity overpowered the thick emotion that hang in the air. The accident that had the village of Letlhakane talking since it occurred on the evening of Friday August 14 had generated a lot of interest among Boteti residents.
The prosecutor said that the suspect is charged with dangerous driving contrary to section 49(a) of the Road Traffic Act, and (b) with failing to stop after the accident and causing death through dangerous driving .The prosecution alleged that the accused drove his motor vehicle on the road in a manner dangerous to other persons, failed to stop after the accident and caused the death of three persons and serious injuries to one.
Bathoeng who is alleged to have been drunk and highly intoxicated on the day of the accident killed three children and injured two more, after veering off the road in Mokgobelele Ward in Letlhakane. According to witnesses, the six children who are all siblings and were walking from their grandmother’s house were hit off road.
“His car was overtaking at high speed, veered off road and approached a group of children who then scattered and run for cover only to be caught in mid-flight and were unfortunately brutally pressed hard against the fence of a nearby by homestead, two died on the spot, one on the way to the hospital, one has been discharged while one is in a very critical condition at Bokamoso Private Hospital.” Constable Serumola Aaron revealed.
He said he was constrained to prosecute this case as he is also a lead prosecutor in another case where the same suspect caused another death in Orapa in 2013 in what is suspected to have been another case of drunken driving. He says while they have now been given the go ahead to prosecute, by the DPP in Gaborone his initial case was delayed by several a factors and the complex nature of his investigations.
He said it is unfortunate to meet the same suspect in court for s similar matter as he had just been given permission from Gaborone to proceed with his case recently and was about to contact him. He said while he would not like to paint the suspect in a bad light, his investigations have revealed that he is a man known for his love of speed.
Taking the stand in open court, the suspect pleaded with the magistrate to grant him bail to consult his parents and seek for a legal advisor as well as meet with his employers. The magistrates reminded him of the seriousness of the offence, his pending case and denied him bail as the police had earlier indicated that the matter is still fresh and would require the services of accident re-constructionists and that he may interfere with investigations.
The police also pleaded with the court to remand him in custody for a while to allow the community to cool off and to protect him from possible vengeance by the victims family and community members. They also said that they were worried about the condition of the fourth child still hospitalised who is in a vegetative state, the prosecutor said that they may have to add another count should the child’s health deteriorate dismally.
In an interview with this publication, Letlhakane Police Station Commander, Michael Maphephu revealed that the suspect was apprehended through the help of community members after he sent his younger brother to take his car to a local panel beater in an attempt to conceal evidence of the accident.
He said community members who saw him at the accident scene where he is said to have stopped for a moment to look at the horrific scene before speeding off helped in identifying him. He said that the three dead students, two girls and their brother aged between seven and twelve years will be laid to rest this weekend, at their home village in Tswapong.
Speaking to the suspect in an interview outside court, he said that he did not mean to conceal the accident but thought that he had hit a dog or some other stray animal. He said he was very sorry that lives were lost as he is currently taking care of his eight months year old child.
He said he was a mechanic and also a student, seconded by his employer Eqstra Holdings which is currently carrying out open cast mining at Boteti Karowe mine. He said he was seconded to a mining institute in South Africa and stands to lose out on this academic development opportunity.
In an interview outside court Constable Serumola Aaron said that in Botswana, the possible sentence in the case of a person who causes the death of another person by dangerous driving is a fine not exceeding P30, 000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or both.
He also said leaving the scene would also carry a sentence and that the judge might also consider suspending the accused driving license. A memorial service was held for the three students at their former School Letlhakane Primary School on Wednesday evening, various churches in the village have also planned prayer services in memory of the departed siblings and their family and a candle light service this Sunday. The suspects will appear again in court on September 15th.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.