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COVID 19: Mystery over Ramotswa woman’s death

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Government has said members of the Ramotswa family whose mother passed on as a result of corona virus related conditions will only access her results through a court order.

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Director of Health Services Dr. Malaki Tshipayagae confirmed to Weekend Post on national broadcaster, Botswana television and Radio Botswana when giving phase 3 lockdown updates that they did not hand over the Corona Virus test results to the family of the deceased Ramotswa elderly woman, Kwetsi Magakwa.

Dr. Tshipiyagae stated that “Kgang Ya Ramotswa, di tsa motho di helela le ditsa motho (As for the Ramotswa case, results can only be handed over to the owner and nobody else. We know that, unfortunately in this case the concerned person is deceased).

“But in any case the results came after she passed on. That is why the cause of death (Corona) differs with what’s in the death certificate. They can only get the results (if they want) through a court order,” he said. Family members of the deceased this week accused government of concealing the truth in the death of their family member.

The family disputes government’s position that the 79 year old woman died of the deadly Corona Virus but instead lung complications and asthma. The government, they say has not even had the courtesy to hand over the “highly confidential” woman’s results to the family hence hiding crucial information that concerns the death of their loved one.

Vice President Slumber Tsogwane announced on Botswana television on March 31st citing her as the first fatal case. He stated that the case involved the 79 year old woman from Ramotswa who succumbed to corona virus, on the 25th March and was buried hurriedly on the 29th March 2020.

Weekend Post has learnt that the deceased was born on the 5th September 1941 in Ramotswa. Before her death she was a full time farmer. Tsogwane said the woman had attended a funeral in Motswedi, a village close to Zeerust in North West and when she returned from Motswedi she was quarantined at home before being taken to Bamalete Lutheran Hospital.

“She was admitted to hospital after she started showing symptoms and later developed a fever on March 21. She was examined in the accident and emergency unit and put under mandatory quarantine where she died on March 25,” the Vice President told the nation.

According to Tsogwane, her burial was conducted with the necessary precautions taken when someone is “suspected” to have a highly infectious disease. Tsogwane said it was noted that the deceased had also had other medical conditions. Weekend Post team then visited the family this week in Ramotswa to inquire on the matter further.

The team was met and greeted by “angry and furious” family members who said they were fed up also labeling government authorities on COBID 19 as “liars” who concealed information on the death of their own family member.

An elder and family representative, Patrick Magakwa told Weekend Post that to start with, the so called government officials on the corona virus have no proof that his older sister died of corona virus but they have the nerve to announce on national television about their family claiming so.

“They don’t have evidence that this woman (older sister) died because of Corona Virus. So they know what they have been saying or telling the nation is not the truth, they never even set foot here to find the truth,” he lashed out.

He continued to justify: “a death certificate confirms her death as lung complications and asthma. She has been having respiratory complications since 1959. There isn’t anything written like COVID-19 which they claim she died of.”

Magakwa narrated his older sister’s ordeal insisting to this publication that it appears when they took her to the hospital, the health officials immediately suspected corona virus since its linked to respiratory complications, while it was not, and instead of attending her speedily to save her life – she was left to die like a dog.

No close contact to the woman tested positive in Ramotswa

According to the family representative, surprisingly, all the family members and relatives who contacted the deceased very closely before, during and after her demise – all tested negative to the corona virus. This, the family says makes them, even doubt further the corona virus conspiracy in the matter.

He explained: “we were five including the deceased when we went to Motswedi in South Africa for the funeral. But we slept in one room while there including the deceased. We even travelled on the same car to and from the funeral.”

“Why were the others not contacted and why are they all of a sudden corona free? They should give us the evidence. They didn’t hand over my sister’s positive results,” he said before adding that all the other four tested negative to corona virus and had undergone the mandatory 14 days quarantine from the 24th March to the 6th April 2020.

Before her death, he stressed that “my wife and I, we were taking care of her, bathing and feeding her and taking her to hospital. And if indeed she had corona, why and how come it didn’t contact us? We all tested negative. It’s been a month and weeks.”

A local radio station has also confirmed at Motswedi in South Africa that there is no COVID-19 case recorded in the area and therefore it is not clear where, if true, the deceased woman contacted the deadly virus.

Family summons Gov’t, COVID-19 taskforce to come explain

Magakwa emphasized that the family wants the government or COVID-19 taskforce team to come to their ward, Goo Phelefu in Ramotswa and explain the issues.

“That’s it. Even Dr. Malaki Tshipiyagae talks about my sister on various media but he has never set foot here. He is soiling the good name of our family. Government is shady on this matter. Since the incident, even MP or Councilor, we have never seen them here. They even shunned the funeral,” he said with guns blazing.

Ramotswa community stigmatizing, discriminating family

The family lives in fear as the community is evidently and continually stigmatizing them and in some cases discriminating them, the family elder told Weekend Post.

“We can’t even walk freely around the community as we are afraid of the people. There is too much stigma and discrimination against us. We are known as the corona virus family. We can’t even go to the Post Office to earn our old age stipend,” Magakwa’s wife added.

Social workers, Council shunned the family in the food packages

According to Magakwa, sometime this week the Council authorities came to their home to ask some questions and upon hearing that it is Magakwa family, they made a U-turn and claimed to have forgotten some forms that they were supposed to fill before giving out the food items.

“The Social workers didn’t bring us food rations although they assessed us and we qualified. We wonder why and assume that it’s probably because of this corona virus issue as our family is associated with it. They came but made a U-turn upon hearing that it is our home stead claiming that they forgot some forms we should fill up until now,” the family members said.

The elderly man highlighted that people are speaking ill of them saying they are infected with corona virus, and pointed out that they lack legal advice and representation on the matter to take government to task as they have no funds.

Only God knows if she died of corona virus or not – Councilor

Weekend Post team further visited the political leadership in the area being the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Councilor for Kgosing, which Goo Phelefu falls under, Zaahid Jalal who was caught between a rock and a hard place in explaining the matter.

“There were some tests done also on her contact persons and all their results came out negative. They were all quarantined and released. They tested negative. Only God knows if she died of corona virus or not,” he pointed out.

According to the Councilor on the other hand it is also difficult to question their medical findings and opinions as medicals are very sensitive. “Probably old age contributed and maybe the virus was not at a level that may be passed to the next person,” he said.

However he added that the truth is that the woman has not been well for some time before corona virus; she had respiratory complications like asthma.

Mortuary staff who came into contact with the deceased also negative

On 1st April, Babereki Ka Lorato branch in Ramotswa mortuary owned by Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU)’s Baberkeri Group as majority shareholder was closed after they handled the “so called COVID 19 corpse” in an unsafe way as they were not notified of the case prior and it was then health processed.

However, all staff members who were on duty and or came into contact with the deceased person were held in quarantine at President Hotel and also later tested negative. Meanwhile World Health Organisation and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has cautioned that there are high risk infections for Corona Virus:

“Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are: People 65 years and older; people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility; people of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including: people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; people who have serious heart conditions; people who are immunocompromised,” the organization states.

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Ex-BDP youth leader speaks against selective justice

13th July 2020
Monare

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) youth wing leader Bontsi Monare has questioned the party’s double standards policy in meting discipline following what he calls “deplorable incident” in Kumakwane.

A group of BDP members on Saturday made an untidy effort to disrupt a Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) event headlined by former party leader Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Khama was welcoming 200 members from BDP into BPF fold.

Monare wrote on his facebook page:

“I am a bit worried by the apparent silence that is coming from my party. It’s been 2 days and there has been not a peep of caution as regards the deplorable KUMAKWANE INCIDENT.
Can the person who embarrassed Kabelo Masvingo Kgwarae Mhuriro with a letter a couple of weeks ago please go ahead and write a letter of caution to my brother who made such a bad judgement call as to rally people to go and discipline the opposition.

Can whatever was being done to Masvingo by writing that strange letter be done to the person who embarrassed the party this past weekend. I am posting because this morning I was taken aback and drawn to think about why the BMD actually came to be. The burning point of contention back then was the obvious selective justice in the party. One set of people were never treated with restraint, always harshly disciplined, while another set of people were always ostracised. WE MUST NOT ALLOW THIS TO TAKE ROOT AGAIN.

We owe the body politique a clear and unambiguous admonishment of that embarrassing episode caught on camera this past weekend. I heard someone say that maybe there is some sought of investigation happening. THE VIDEO IS THERE at-least get out and tell the public that THAT IS NOT WHAT THE BDP STANDS FOR. What is difficult with that??

DO NOT LET SELECTIVE JUSTICE rear its head again. Do not allow a situation where certain democrats are less that others ka boloko. Ko bofelelong, if the party can recruit people from the opposition WHY CAN IT NOT ‘RECRUIT/REINSTATE’ democrats who were suspended donkey years ago. I am really trying to ask myself WHO BENEFITS FROM EMBARRASSING SOMEONE WHO IS ALREADY SUSPENDED FROM THE PARTY.”

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Gov’t freezes four district council business

13th July 2020

The Government through Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has directed that the country’s four most populous District Council resort to conducting their proceedings through digital infrastructure as a health precaution amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The four district councils are Kweneng District, Central District Council, Southern and North West District Council. The government in March this year, as Covid-19 ran riot across the globe, decided to halt all meetings including councils and parliament.

[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”1,2,3″ ihc_mb_template=”1″ ]On the 11th of June, MLGRD Permanent Secretary Boipolelo Khumomatlhare issued a correspondence on ‘resumption of committee meetings, sub council and full council sessions’. The savingram read; “Following the ease on lockdown restrictions, addressees are advised to resume committee meetings, sub council and full council sessions save for full council sessions for the following districts; Kweneng, Central, Southern and North West District Council.”

According to Khumomatlhare, full council sessions for the mentioned district councils will resume as soon as the requisite IT infrastructure is put in place for them to conduct such sessions. “This is important in observing the Covid-19 protocol of social distancing,” he emphasized. For instance Kweneng District has 82 members, Central has 174, and Southern has 64. All these are too much according to Ministry PS and will have to wait until the proper infrastructure is in place.

Various councillors from the affected districts are not happy with the way things are panning out. They lament that the significance of local government authorities is being down played, while other sectors such as schools, transport (buses), tertiary institutions are operating, with parliament also scheduled to convene very soon.  In an interview with this publication, CDC Chairperson Ketshwereng Galeragwe said this will have adverse impact on their schedule and servicing the people.

“It is affecting the people who voted us because they always have complaints and the only way to understand their laments is through the full council meetings. The only way we can have a full council is when we have a fully equipped IT of which I am not sure whether we will achieve but if we fail we will revert back to the ministry so that they can give us another idea as to how to go about it,” Galeragwe said.

On the other hand, Southern District Chairperson Thami Chabalala said they have already started scheduled meetings but will engage the ministry on the matter to start full council sessions. “We should justify to the Ministry that we will follow the Covid-19 protocols like registrations, taking body temperatures and social distancing. We might even use a much bigger room for us to host the full session,” he said. Galeragwe did not discount the impact this has on their business.

Kweneng District which houses 82 councillors is also looking for a much bigger space to conduct their business. “We are too many and we should wait. This has however affected us because council have various structures and all of them should be functional. Our schedule has been heavily disrupted since March but if we adhere to the protocols set by Director of Health Services we will be good to go,” Council Chairperson Motlhophi Leo said in an interview. He added that they have met and raised this issue with the minister in charge, Eric Molale and they are adamant that he will take the advice they have submitted.[/ihc-hide-content]

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Guma, Shumba Energy fight over P50 million loan

13th July 2020
Guma Moyo

Samson Moyo Guma and Mmoloki Tibe are locked up in a dispute with Shumba Energy regarding the ownership of Coal Petroleum (Pty) Ltd and an outstanding payment of P50 million. Guma and Tibe are shareholders, co-founders and Directors of coal Petroleum (pty) Ltd, with initial 50:50 share split between them.

They had subsequently engaged Holland and Hausberger (H and H) to prepare a Pre-Feasibility Study for them which was fully paid for. As the project progressed, they gave H+H 10% shares in lieu of consultancy fees, resulting in shareholding of 45:45:10, for Guma, Tibe and H and H, respectively. The two have written a letter to Botswana Oil Limited Chief Executive Officer, Mr Gamu Mpofu to notice him of their dispute with Shumba Energy.
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According to Guma and Tibe, they carried out a lot of work to progress the project including Pre-Feasibility Study, securing 295.5ha land for the project, carried out Geo Tech, commenced EIA, signed MOU’s with Wison and Power China, responded to BOL Tender, etc. the result was a company with a valuation of USD12M.

But where does Shumba Energy come in, according to communication between Guma, Tibe and Botswana Oil Limited, Shumba Energy approached them to acquire 80% shares in the company on terms contained in various transaction agreements.  Key to this agreement was the understanding that Shumba Energy will make available a loan of P50m (through a Bridging Loan Facility Agreement) in 3 days after Coal Petroleum fulfilment of the transaction conditions. The loan was to take the project to Financial close (FC), which will ensure that Guma and Tibe are paid the value of their shares, being USD5.2m, USD4, 2m for Guma and Tibe, respectively.

According to documents seen by this publication these amounts were arrived at by taking 80% the value of the company of USD12m (USD 12*80%), with Guma selling 45% (45% of USD9.6m = USD5.4m) and Tibe selling 35% of USD9.6m = USD4,2m).  Further, a payment of R100, 000 and P50, 000 on a monthly basis, being out of pocket expenses for Guma and service level payments (for work done since inception to the time of the transaction) for Tibe, respectively were to be made by Shumba.

WeekendPost learns that the P50m was in place within 3 days as Guma and Tibe were made to believe and therefore enter into the agreements. “This has put a huge risk on the project to achieve CF and also a further a risk that we may not be paid the value for shares,” they informed Botswana Oil Limited CEO. The two businessmen also claim that there are also some amounts relating to work completed and/or on going at the time of the transaction which were to be paid out of the loan facility of P50m. “These amounts includes balance of Geo Tech, work done on EIA, and Lease for the land, etc.”

They state that these amounts remain outstanding due to the fact that the loan facility has still not been made available more than 6 months later. In the meantime, we, not Shumba, continue to receive reminders to pay and this makes us look bad and tarnishes our good names with service providers who were to be paid from the loan facility provided.

According to documents seen by this publication, “Other costs still to be paid includes Bankable Feasibility Studies conducted by Power China and Wison, Design work and ongoing consulting work. Without the P50m loan facility these critical aspects of the project will not be completed, not only on time, but also that there is risk that the project will not progress beyond the point we handed it over to Shumba, except for RFQ’s as and due diligence initiated by BOL.

There is need to emphasise that we only agreed to transfer the shares to Shumba on the commitment to make available the P50m loan facility available within 3 days in the interest of the project and the perceived benefit to the country.” Guma and Tibe inform Botswana Oil Limited that they believe that they were misled and as the P50m loan facility was a deal breaker for them, they believe the sale of the shares is null and void and therefore not bound by the agreements signed.

They further point out that the amounts paid up to date (31st March, 2020), have been paid late in most cases after the agreed contractual dates. They contend that Shumba Energy does not have money as evidenced by failure to arrange the P50m loan facility. “The delays in payments were sometimes attributed to delays in receiving money from coal customers in South Africa and in some cases were have been told that the money is kept overseas and there are delays in transferring money to Botswana,” they informed Botswana Oil Limited CEO.

When recently pushed to commit to pay these amounts on time, going forward, Shumba invoked force majeure due to the Covid 19 pandemic. However Guma and Tibe posit that Shumba Energy is conveniently forgetting that these payments were to be made out of the P50m loan facility which was to be in place more than 6 months ago.

“It now goes to show and demonstrate the explanation that money is kept abroad is not true and meant to buy time whilst trying to raise some money through coal sales. This for us amounts to not working with us in good faith.”
Guma and Tibe argue that Shumba Energy misled them to believe that there was P50m available in 3 days after they had met their side of the conditions.

“Without the P50m even besides the misrepresentation to get us to transfer the shares, Shumba is failing to meet is obligation to pay us monthly commitments to an extent that they are now invoking force majeure despite our payments not based on sale of coal but on the availability of the P50m long facility.”

According to the two Petroleum Pty Ltd directors, efforts to reach an amicable resolution have all been in vain and they remain far apart, therefore narrowing their positions to legal action to resolve the matter. Guma and Tibe told Botswana Oil Limited that they have taken a position to cancel this transactions.

Since BOL is an interested party, the two businessmen had requested to be privy to correspondences between BOL and Shumba Energy. Meanwhile Botswana Oil Limited declined to comment on the matter stating that “we can disclose client information to third parties.” When contacted for comment Samson Guma Moyo expressed that he will not discuss the matter with this publication because it is with the appropriate authorities.

However Shumba had written to Guma and Tibe indicating that they have evoked the force majeure provisions that are in the Services Contract. They pointed to Botswana lock down state of emergency from midnight on April 2 2020 which will be in place for a period of six months as one of the reasons.

They further said South Africa had also declared a national state of disaster as a result of the rapid spread of the virus in South Africa and the nation-wide lockdown. They shared that Mauritius is also on lock down. “Therefore all three countries where we carry out our business operations are in a state of lock down and further Botswana where we conduct most of our business is under a state of emergency. As a result thereof, we hereby advice Coal Petroleum, will be unable to fulfill its obligations (including payments).”

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