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Friday, 19 April 2024

Attorney General takes Dow to court

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PRECEDENT SET: Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow finds herself in an unfamiliar position of having to defend a matter involving a Ministry she is serving. The former Judge has decided not to argue the matter which she had originally won for her client in a P1.2 million award. Instead a different lawyer from her former law firm, Dow and Associates will take the podium against the Attorney General who is appealing the decision.

The Assistant Minister in the Ministry Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow found herself between a rock and a hard place as she was notified of the Attorney General’s intention to appeal a matter she won in 2012.


Dow will on Monday briefly appear before a judge in a case in which the government is appealing her 2012 victory after she had successfully sued government for P1.2 million in damages for her client’s hand injuries, which she sustained in 2000 after being beaten by a teacher at Kgari Sechele Senior Secondary School.


Although there is no legal prohibition for Dow to argue her case as a Minister, she has chosen not to do so – presumably to avoid conflict of interest and in respect of the office that she holds. Dow who is a Specially Elected Member of Parliament ceased to be active at her firm, Dow and Associates upon taking her new office at the Ministry Education and Skills Development but assists behind the scenes according to sources.


Dow is expected to take a few minutes addressing the court over her painful recusal from the case of Bogadi Ramatlapeng against the Attorney General (AG) in which she believed and probably still believes in. The case will be argued by another lawyer at her firm instead.


In the grounds of appeal for the Monday case, the Attorney General argues that “the learned judge erred in coming to the conclusion that the respondent is entitled to the damages of 400 000.00 for pain and suffering. The award by trial court is palpable excessive or clearly disproportionate to the circumstances of this case”.


Attorney General further argues that the judge in his judgement misdirected himself in coming to the conclusion that the defendants are liable to plaintiff’s claim of P700 000.00 for permanent injury and disfigurement and P100 000.00 for future medical expenses. “The awarded damages are high and unreasonable,” reads AG’s court papers.


According to the Attorney General, the court “erred in concluding that the Appellants were liable without hearing expert testimony”.


Arguing her case then, Dow told judge Lot Moroka that she had been disappointed at the way the AG’s had been handling the case by not appearing in court or even honouring scheduled meetings.


She cited dates of failed meetings and court appearances from as far back as 2010 thanks to the defendant’s absence. Even after failure to respond to all these calls, the AG’s insisted that Ramatlapeng’s injury was not a result of that beating, but rather a fall that she sustained in 1998 as a result of her epilepsy.


Explaining her case to the court, Ramatlapeng had told court how she suffered intimidation and mistreatment from some of her teachers who did not even want to sympathise with her even though they understood her situation.

The injury, which was inflicted to an already epileptic Ramatlapeng led to inactiveness of her right hand because her fingers had curled to form a fist. A fracture on the thumb had also been discovered. With her injured right hand she can only support her left hand, but still feels pain on her right shoulder if she tries to use it.


Ramatlapeng continuously shed tears when she told court that she was mistreated and robbed of a bright future because she performed poorly at school that year, as no consideration was made for her situation. She had to learn to use her left hand at that crucial time of sitting for her final examinations.


Dow argued that even if AGs refused liability for the injury on the grounds that it was a result of a fall, it would still be irresponsible of Keetshabe to hit her on the same hand that she had sustained an injury on when falling. The lawyer also argued that the injury was permanent and had robbed Ramatlapeng of a decent livelihood.


Judge Moroka granted Ramatlapeng the P1.2 million compensation sought and 10% interest of the amount per annum.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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