Attorney representing residents of Pilikwe on the radioactive waste facility case, Bugalo Maripe this week told the Weekend Post that the case has been withdrawn with the intention of engaging the concerned parties for an amiable solution.
“The parties chose to withdraw the matter and discuss it at the village in an attempt to settle it out of court, which if an amiable settlement is not reached, the case will come back to court,” said Maripe. He also said looking for another location for the radioactive storage facility rather than Pilikwe was also an alternative to the matter among other solutions.
The case that was brought for status hearing before Judge Letsididi of Lobatse High Court on 27th May 2015, has one Sebusang and others challenging the legality of Pilikwe being made a radioactive storage.
According to them, the decision by the Chairman of the Radiation Protection Board, the Director of the Department Radiation Protection and the Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology in locating and citing the Radioactive waste storage facility at Pilikwe was wrong and unlawful as it was done without proper scientific site identification procedures, ignoring other alternative sites and also risking human health and life.
Pilikwe residents are also of the view that the Director of Environmental Affairs was wrong to authorize the construction of the facility at Pilikwe as it was only based on the Environment Impact Assessment Report, which disregarded the guidelines laid down by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s health and safety risks to human life.
The Residents also cited that it was wrong for Ngwato Land Board to cite a plot for radioactive waste facility in an area of close proximity to the Pilikwe residential area and within the general growth direction of the village. They argued that by so doing the socio-economic status of the residents was endangered and the 5 kilometres prescribed as the safe distance from the village was also violated.
The International Atomic Energy Agency that Botswana is a member of, in its publication of storage of radioactive waste, Section 3.13 provides thus; prior to the authorization of a facility for storage of radioactive waste, the operator should provide the regulatory body with plans for the long term management of the radioactive waste being stored. The public, especially the communities located near the storage facility, should be informed of these plans.
Maripe also highlighted in his court filing prior to the withdrawal of the matter that, “the Director of Environmental Affairs authorized the construction of a radioactive waste facility at Pilikwe village on the basis that the purported Environmental Impact Assessment Exercise/Report was done without consulting the Applicants and or the villagers of Pilikwe.
The construction of the radioactive storage facility has long been an issue of dispute between the government and residents of Pilikwe from as far back as 2009.
Media reports have alleged that the facility is a threat to Botswana’s national security and put the country at risk of missile attacks from South Africa.
Kgosi Opelo Seduke Bopadile of Pilikwe Customary Court distanced himself from the matter saying the village youth are the ones pursuing the matter and they are the ones who had all the relevant information.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.