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‘lifting’ the cup

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

For all of you soccer aficionados I hardly need remind you that last week was the FA cup final in Great Britain,  this year a battle between soccer giants, Chelsea versus Manchester United.   The score in that game was low, the winner taking the match 1-Nil and it was Chelsea that triumphed over Man U.  The supreme irony here is the history of the 2 clubs, Chelsea having been formerly managed by star manager, Jose Marinho , now in charge of Manchester United.  

A little bird also tells me that there’s some sort of big sporting competition literally about to kick off very soon.  I speak, of course, of the FIFA World Cup which is being hosted this time, somewhat controversially, in Russia:   I say controversially because Russian fans are notoriously Xenophobic, homophobic and generally a pack of bully boys out for a fight and it’s unlikely that Russian cops will be particularly sympathetic to visitors which doesn’t bode well but let’s see.

Now already, I’ve probably provoked another sort of controversy amongst you ;  some of you may very well be Chelsea or Man U fans and if so the former will be happy, the latter miserable; others will follow a completely different FA league team and be miffed yours didn’t make it to the final:  And no doubt you will have already picked your favourite national team for the FIFA tournament and it won’t necessarily relate to your own nationality – families have been known to fall out over this competition!

Luckily, I am completely neutral and as such I am going to restrict my writing to relating a rather interesting story that concerns the theft of the FIFA trophy over half a century ago, in 1966.  A brief history first: The trophy, now known as the Jules Rimet trophy was made by French sculptor Abel Lafleur for the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup, won by the hosts Uruguay after they beat Argentina 4–2 in the final. 

Originally called Victory, the trophy was renamed in 1946 to honour FIFA President Jules Rimet, who in 1929 had passed a vote to initiate the World Cup.  Rimet was a French football administrator and third FIFA President, serving from 1921 to 1954 and his 33 years in office make him the longest-serving FIFA president.  Suspended during World War II, the FIFA cup competition was only restored in 1950 and the original gold trophy was awarded permanently in 1970 to 3-times winners Brazil.  Unhappily that trophy was stolen in Rio in 1983 and has never been recovered.

That was the second time that same trophy had been stolen.  Back in 1966 the host country was Great Britain and it was there that the trophy was embarrassingly  stolen a few months  before the final and right under the noses of the authorities.  It caused an utter furore, precipitated one of the biggest criminal manhunts in the country since the Great Train Robbery 3 years earlier and failed to find the trophy. 

Happily, the cup was unearthed soon after by a dog named Pickles, sniffing around the countryside on a walk with his owner so, honour was restored and everyone breathed a sigh of relief; as it turned out,  particularly so,  as it was eventually legitimately lifted by English football legend and England Captain Bobby Charlton after a finale which went down in the annals of FIFA history – England and Germany tied on 2-2, extra time called for and England’s Geoff Hurst managing to put the ball through the posts twice, making it a 4-2 victory for England.

England doesn’t triumph often in any major sport so this victory was a talking point for decades to come.  It was a really big thing and it was very nearly a national humiliation if not for Pickles and his powers of scent and observation!
The exact details of how this audacious theft was carried out have been largely unknown for all this time but have finally been revealed and I can now share you with them here.

London gangster and armed robber Sidney Cugullere was known among underground circles as the likely culprit, though he was never charged, and his involvement was never proved.  But now an investigation by The Mirror newspaper has confirmed that indeed it was him who made off with the cup alongside his brother Reg, a claim authenticated by three sources, one of whom is  Reg's son Gary.  “And he did it just for fun”, revealed Gary, who decided to tell the story after he was approached by the Mirror.

He said: 'Sidney just nicked it for the thrill – not for financial gain, but just because it was so easy.'  Cugullere died of cancer in 2005, aged 79, having never been collared for the crime, keeping his secret even though he was jailed for more than 25 years for other offences. The Mirror found that he made off with the cup from Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, on Sunday March 20, 1966.  It  had been on display there, on loan from the FA headquarters for only 24 hours – leaving Sidney a short window of time to make his move. 

The exhibition was closed on the Sunday and there were four guards on duty, split into two pairs.  Cugullere apparently drove to Westminster from his home in Walworth, south east London to case the joint.   Donning a brown removals-style coat, he walked into the public area and then into the locked room where the trophy was locked inside a cabinet.  Using bolt cutters he  was able to get into the cabinet with ease and become the first Englishman to lift the famous trophy, though not in the way it was intended!  He simply put it in his bag and walked out. Gary says his father told him he was also in the Methodist Central Hall, but did not see Sidney take the cup. 

The pair devised a plan to get hold of a ransom for the cup demanding £15,000 from Chelsea and FA chairman Joe Mears.  The note, penned by Cugullere, said: 'Dear Joe Kno (sic) doubt you view with very much concern the loss of the world cup … to me it is only so much scrap gold.', threatening that the cup would be 'for the POT' if the ransom was not paid in full.

They arranged to meet Mears in Battersea Park, however Mears' place was taken by Flying Squad chief DI Len Buggy.  Sidney's friend Ted Betchley, 46, a former docker was arrested but insisted he was just the middleman, paid £500 (about P7500) for his part, and was jailed for just two years.

With the trophy too hot to sell on, the brothers decided to get rid of it quickly and quietly.  A week later, a border collie called Pickles wrote his name into history by finding it while out on a walk. 
Neither of the two culprits were ever arrested for their theft and had wreaths in the shape of the Jules Rimet trophy at their funerals! That was a broad hint!

So yet another case where ‘crime doesn’t pay’ but it’s still a great story to tell the grandchildren and no doubt trotted out by the Cugulleres whenever there’s a family get-together and knees up; but the real spoils go to Bobby Moore and his team who pulled off the seemingly impossible –an English win over Germany.
Now where have we heard that before?!

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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