The land tribunal has ruled against former Member of Parliament, Robert Masitara and his Wife, Poloko in a case in which they had taken the South East District Council to the Land Tribunal appealing a decision by the Council to demolish some of the structures he had built in his Tlokweng Forensic Investigation and residence multimillion yard.
The Council had ordered Masitara to clean up the mess in 2011 when conducting a familiarisation tour in Tlokweng for new members after learning that the structures, paving, car pots-overhanging car shades, steel support structure and nets as well as Chains mounted on pillars were constructed without permission.
The Council said that no planning permission was ever granted to Masitara nor was it ever requested for by him for the said developments.Masitara said that he understood that they ought to have obtained permission to construct the structures adding that they recieved a letter instructing them to remove the developments whilst he was in the process of applying for permission to regularise the developments.
Masitara further pleaded that he be allowed to keep the strucures whilst he applies for permission to regularise the structures. He further pleaded that the structures be left intact and if Council wants to undertake any developments in the area, he would remove them.
Masitara rubbished the Council’s suggestions that the structures were obstructing or posing any form of threat to other road users further adding that the has removed some which were said to be obstructing people.He continued that some people actualy utilise the shades for shelter from the sun and rain.
The Council however argued that Masitara ‘s constructions were illegal and that they were dangerously in a road reserve in front of his plot, this being an area where Masitara had no land rights. They said the developments compromised the safety and visibility of motorists. They further argued that during the day, pedestrians are forced onto the tarmac further saying that Masitara ‘s plot is located where visibility is compromised as it is a curved area.
The Council further argued that government has introduced guidelines for small and medium enterprises which provide for activities that can be carried out within residential plots without licencing. The condition,they said, is that the activity should not lead to change of land use and that the land should remain dorminantly used for residential purpose.The South East Council further accused Masitara of using a residential plot for business,an accusation Masitara refuted saying the only house used as an office was the house in front.
In handing down the judgement, Sampa Kaisara, the tribunal president, said it is common cause that Tlokweng has been declared a Planning Area in terms of the Town and Country Planning Act which means that the provisions of the Act apply in the area.
“In terms of the Act the Council is empowered to undertake duties in furtherance of the objectives of the Act.The main objective is to make provision for the orderly development of land in both urban and rural areas and to preserve and improve the amenities thereof,” he said.
He said in accordance with the Act,no development will be permitted in the area without planning permission having been granted.He ruled that the developments were illegal as they were constrcuted contrary to the provisions of the said Act.
“In addition,the developmets in questions lie within a road reserve of tarred public road in front of Masitara’s plot.A road reserve is an area which provides for facilities like pedestrian ways, as well as lines for water, power, telecommunications, sewer or storm water,” he said, further adding that no private or individual developments are allowed within the road reserve.
“Accordingly, the court finds that it would be improper to allow Masitara’s developments in the road reserve as it would obstruct pedestrians and provision of utilities,” said the president in handing down the judgement. The court ruled that Masitara’s developments are illegal and ordered him to remove the develoments within 30 days from yesterday (Friday).
The court however saved Masitara’s pavements, allowing him 60 days to obtain planning permission to regularise the paving developments in the disputed area.The court further ruled that should Masitara fail to remove the disputed developments,the Council should remove them and claim the costs of doing so from Masitara.
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.