ACCUSED: Case against John Carrol (left) has been withdrawn
The American government, Army and the University of Phoenix have refused to assist the Botswana government in investigations against John Carroll (53), an American citizen accused of defrauding the Botswana government of over P200 000.
John Carrol was also accused of forgering certificates to gain employment with the government. The state has since been forced to withdraw their case, due to lack of evidence.
The state had promised Gaborone Village Chief Magistrate, Linah Mokibe-Oahile that they were still consulting and gathering evidence from American institutions and some individuals in conncetion to the case.
The American government, known for its over protection of its citizens was not willing to cooperate and proffer assistance to the Directorate of Public Prosecution and the government in general.
John Edward Carroll is alleged to have uttered a false Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, thereby defrauding the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology a total of about P228,980.10 in salaries.
He was facing another charge of falsely informing one Tshireletso Mandu Chenga, a human resource manager at the Ministry that his wife Sarona Matshidiso Sebina and daughter Samiera Karabo Carroll were in the US and needed to join him in Botswana. Chenga then issued a Sixty thousand, two hundred and twenty nine Pula (P60 229) air transport warrant for the two.
Caroll who was respresented by Mack Bahuma Attorneys lawyers was arrested by CID officers at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport upon his return from the US in 2014 before succesfully applying for P20 000 bail.
He was asked to surrender all his travelling documents to Mogoditshane Police Station, where he was reporting twice a week after providing two sureties who each paid P60,000.
Weekend Post this week, learnt that the state had withdrawn the case in which it was accusing the former United States of America Marine of defrauding the government money and forgering his academic certificates to get employmenmt from government. This withdrawal which was actuated by lack of insufficient evidence may however resume once the state finds its evidence, according to some sources.
The state’s attempt to contact the American based University, Phoenix, the US Army and government is said to have hit a snag as a result of poor cooperation from sources. The state could not consequently verify the legitimacy of the accused’s alleged forged academic credentials from the Army, University and government.
Carroll is married to a Motswana Doctor in one of the prominent health facilities and has a daughter with the same woman. However he has not acquired Botswana citizenship and frequently visits the US unrestricted by the Botswana government.
Carroll is a businessman and has a foundation called John Carroll Foundation Africa whose main focus is destitutes and orphans. The foundation whose primary aim is to build houses for the needy and provide sponsorship for children from less fortunate backgrounds, he says was inspired by his experiences while serving in Afghanistan as a US Marine. Carroll also has a few businesses around the country and has donated houses to the needy.
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.