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No end in sight for Botswana/ Namibia looming border row

The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.

Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.” 

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Magistrate sues Chief Justice over transfer

23rd September 2022

Molepolole Magistrate, Kefilwe Resheng is taking government to court to oppose the decision to transfer her to Mahalapye, amid concerns with her security.

Resheng has cited the Chief Justice, the Chief Registrar of the High Court and the Attorney General in her application to court.

In her founding affidavit placed before High Court Judge, Boipuso Tshweneyagae, Resheng said that her application is meant to protect her rights particularly the right to health, safety, security, protection of the law, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment as envisaged by the Constitution, adding that particularly because that there is no law in their jurisdiction protecting such rights of Magistrates.

“To protect such rights I seek temporary declaratory orders from the Court pending the institution and finalisation of review proceedings against the decision of the 1st and 2nd Respondents (the chief justice and the chief registrar of the high court),” she wrote in her affidavit.

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

Resheng explained on her founding affidavit that she has worked for the Judiciary since the May 2010 as a grade three Magistrate in Palapye.

She said on the 1st October 2019 she was transferred from Mochudi Magistrate Court to Molepolole Magistrates Court at the position of Principal Magistrate. She was then transferred from Molepolole Magistrates Court to Mahalapye Magistrates Court by the letter dated 5th April 2022 and her transfer was to commence from 1st May 2022.

“I accepted the transfer, and communicated such acceptance verbally to the Regional North and South and Chief Magistrate Molepolole,” said Resheng on her affidavit.

She alluded that she then arranged a meeting with the Chief Registrar through her secretary for purposes of accepting her transfer formally, however the meeting did not materialise because the Chief Registrar’s secretary advised she was too busy at the time to meet.

“On the 3rd May 2022 I reported for duty at Mahalapye Magistrate Court as required by my transfer letter. I had a meeting with His Worship Solomon Setshedi (Head of Station for Mahalapye) who briefed me about the station and promised to do a proper handing over with handing over notes,” she wrote.

Resheng said that she was advised by Regional Magistrate North that she was replacing Setshedi and taking over that station in due course, but that his transfer was still in the pipeline.

She said since Setshedi had not received any letter of transfer himself there was no accommodation or office space for her in Mahalapye, and she discussed the issue with the regional Magistrate North.

She revealed that she was then advised to remain in Molepolole pending the resolution of all the administrative issues.

“On 17th May 2022 I was viciously attacked and assaulted by an accused by the names Mogorosi Korae whilst executing my judicial functions in open court, the events leading to my attack are detailed in a Police report I recorded,” she wrote.

She stated that she was rescued, not by any member of staff, Police or Prisons officials, but by a civilian in attendance at the court premises on the day.

“On the same date of the attack I sought medical attention and after consultation with the doctor I was put on sick leave from the 18th May 2022 until 27th May 2022. This was due to the fact that I was diagnosed with acute Post Traumatic Stress disorder” said Resheng on her affidavit.

She stated that on the 31st May 2022 she was attacked verbally by two accused persons in two different cases.

“In the case of Kgotla Mothupian inmate facing charges of burglary started off by bursting into court and being rowdy during the proceedings of another case that was heard before his. He was screaming saying “I will show her, she doesn’t know who I am. I am not going to appear before her”.

Resheng wrote that after she presided over the matter that was ongoing, Mothupi’s matter was then called. She said he (Mr Mothupi) continued to hurl insults and threats and made it known to her that there was a vendetta by the Molepolole inmates to harm her.

“As if to add salt to the wound, up next to be heard was the case of Keorapetse Barakanye who was appearing for charges of robbery in a case where he is accused of robbing Payless Molepolole at gun point,” she said.

She added that she could not finish fast enough because the attack caused her a relapse and was attended to at Gaborone Private Hospital where a General Practitioner referred her to a specialist psychiatrist for treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“My psychiatrist and psychologist wrote reports recommending that I be moved from Molepolole being the place where I was attacked by Mogosi Korae, Kgotla Mothupi and Keorapetse Barakanye, Furthermore, I should not be transferred to Mahalapye as it is the place where Keorapetse Barakanye threatened to find me and also kill me,” she wrote.

She stated that her then Attorney Rantao then wrote and delivered a letter to the offices of the Chief Justice and Chief Registrar requesting that they consider transferring her as per the doctor’s recommendation, on medical grounds.

“I need to state that even my clinical psychologist whom I started seeing after the assault, Ms Christina Bitsang, had also formed an opinion after my assessment that my full recovery was dependent on having the support of my family and, obviously, working in Gaborone or its surroundings where they are close by,’’ wrote Resheng.

She indicated that her employer did not respond for at least two (2) months.

“On the 1st August 2022, I wrote through my then attorneys Rantao Attorneys to the 1st and 2nd Respondents requesting directions on the matters before them concerning my transfer as I was due to report for duty and since the response substantively said nothing about the concerns raised by the doctors,” wrote Resheng.

She indicated that her attorneys received a response on the 9th August 2022 indicating that they were still engaging their lawyers over the matter but that in the interim the transfer to Mahalapye still stood and that she will be informed in due course when the Mahalapye Magistrate has arrived.

“Unfortunately, on the 16th August 2022 I had a second relapse whilst at work at the Molepolole Magistrates Court. The situation was so dire that I had to be transported by a work vehicle from work to see a doctor as it was an emergency,” she wrote.

She said she was then placed on sick leave ending on the 10th September 2022.

“I have now come to the conclusion and/or realization that the Chief Justice and Chief Registrar conduct amounts to a refusal to reconsider my transfer on medical grounds to Gaborone or surrounding areas within commuting distance,” she wrote.

GOVERNMENT’S ANSWERING AFFIDAVIT

Juliana Dube –Gobotswang, the Chief Registrar, wrote in her answering affidavit that she ha enquired through WhatsApp on the wellbeing of Resheng, which she stated that she was seeing a psychologist.

“Our safety, wellness and environment officer had also been checking up on her to find out how she was doing. We further had resolved to pay for the applicant’s medical expenses which were in the form of psychologist bills, we however much state that we do not know the frequency of her doctors visits,” Gobotswang wrote.

Gobotswang revealed that Resheng does not have the right to refuse to report for duty at Mahalapye when she has accepted transfer, when she has been replaced as head of station at Molepolole and when she accepted transfer allowance.

“The applicant does not even have the right to force other magistrate on transfer, as the effect of insisting that she be placed at a certain station without even establishing the availability of a vacancy would result in this magistrate having to pave a way for her,” she wrote.

Gobotswang’s affidavit indicated that Resheng’s position remains unoccupied in Mahalapye and that as a result of her note reporting at Mahalapye, there will now be a shortage of staff causing a delay in the resolution of cases.

“A continued absence will negatively impact upon the rights of the litigations before the Mahalapye court who have a right to have a right to have their cases determined without unreasonable delay” Gobotswang’s affidavit read.

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Unpacking HIV status quo in Kgalagadi North

23rd September 2022

Progress in prevention and treatment of Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) is said to be faltering around the world, putting millions of people in grave danger. This was said by UNAIDS in its report released in July this year.

UNAIDS says Eastern Europe and central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa have all seen increase in annual HIV infections over several years. In Asia and the Pacific, UNAIDS data now show new HIV infections are rising where they had been falling.

According to UNAIDS, action to tackle the inequalities driving Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is urgently required to prevent millions of new HIV infections this decade and to end the AIDS pandemic. Globally, the number of new infections dropped by only 3.6% between 2020 and 2021, the smallest annual decline in new HIV infections since 2016.

Bringing the HIV situation closer to home, particularly to Kgalagadi North, the status quo is not that disheartening. The region is one of the few with quite relatively low HIV prevalence in Botswana, but obviously with eyebrow raising if not disturbing incidences here and there.

District AIDS Coordinator for Kgalagadi North, Keodiretse Seretse told WeekendPost this week that there are two thousand, six hundred and ninety one (2691) patients who have enrolled for Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in a population of twenty three thousand, five hundred and ten (23,510).

Kgalagadi North is made out of nine and five settlements and villages respectively. These villages are Hukuntsi, Kang, Lehututu, Lokgwabe and Tshane, while settlements are Inalegolo, Phuduhudu, Maake, Monong, Hunhukwe, Ncaang, Zhutshwa, Ngwatle and Ukhwi.

“From the number above (2691) sixteen (16) children under 12 years were born with HIV but they are currently living normal lives due to the ARV treatment. In this number, 8.2% of the patients are male while 8.1% are females,” said Seretse.

She further indicated that Kang has the highest HIV prevalence rate because of the Trans-Kalahari Highway “as we begin to see some emerging issues such as sex work. The village also has high rate of teenage pregnancy.”

When quizzed on which age group is mostly infected with HIV, Seretse told this publication that people aged between 35 and 39 are the most affected, followed by the age range 40-44. She added that the main cause of HIV in Kgalagadi North is mostly unprotected sex as the desert region continues to see drastic spike in sexually transmitted infections.

In the past three months, the region has recorded thirteen new HIV infections, of which eight were females and five were males from a total of seven hundred and nineteen (719) which was tested for the highly contagious incurable disease.

“Besides all these disturbing figures, we have Antiretroviral therapy (ART) program that is progressing exceptionally well. ART is a treatment for HIV/AIDS that can prolong and improve patients’ lives, and potentially reduce the risk that they will infect others.

“Viral suppression rate is at 99.2% and program uptake is at 99%. Prevention of Mother to Child Transmissions (PMTCT) program is also doing well as uptake has hit the 100% mark,” Seretse told this publication.

She however, expressed concern saying they are experiencing ARV medication defaults. “This is happening especially at the settlements. Those who work at the farms sometimes default as they move from one farm to another frequently. At times they do not notify the health care workers.”

As it stands, there are twenty one (21) HIV patients who have defaulted from the ARV treatment and are still being followed to continue their medication.

Meanwhile, reports say there were 38.4 million people globally living with HIV in 2021. According to these reports, 1.5 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2021, while 650 thousand people died from AIDS-related illnesses in the same year.

Further, 28.7 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy last year. Over 80 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic, while 40 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.

Of the 38.4 million people living with HIV in 2021, 36.7 million are adults (15 years and older), 1.7 million children (0 to 14 years) and 54% of all people living with HIV were women and girls. According to the reports, 5.9 million people living with HIV did not know they had the virus, while 85% knew about their HIV status.

At the end of December 2021, 28.7 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, up from 7.8 million people in 2010. New infections have been reduced by 54% since the peak in 1996. Since 2010, new infections have declined by 32% from 2.2 million to 1.5 million in 2021.

In 2021, key populations (sex workers and their client’s gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and transgender people) and their sexual partners accounted for 70% of HIV infections globally.

It has been reported that 94% of new infections were outside of sub-Saharan Africa while only 51% were from the region under review. Every week, around 4900 young women aged between 15 and 24 years become infected with HIV.

In sub-Saharan Africa, six in seven new HIV infections among adolescents aged between 15 and 19 years are girls. Girls and young women aged between 15 and 24 years are twice as likely to be living with HIV than young men.

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A closer look into BOSETU state of affairs

23rd September 2022

In its Extra-Ordinary Delegate Congress held recently in Palapye, Botswana Secondary School Teachers Union (BOSETU) gave an update on a number of issues. These are issues that are paramount to the welfare of its members, which are mostly teachers.

When giving a report on the general health of the union, Secretary General Tabokani Rari said the union has realized a substantial growth. He indicated that in April 2021, membership stood at fifteen thousand and thirty five (15 035), while as of August 2022, total membership was nineteen thousand, five hundred and fifty five (19 555).

“This is a growth of four thousand, five hundred and twenty (4520) in sixteen months, translating to thirty percent (30%) growth in one year and four months. I must say this is a remarkable development and we hope for more members as time goes by.”

THE REVIEW OF THE TRANSFER POLICY (TP)

BOSETU Council engaged on the matter prior to the full outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the agreement on it was that a joint consultative meet be composed to carry out a consultative process on transfer policy. A statement from BOSETU says the process commenced before COVID-19 but could not be concluded owing COVID-19 protocol restrictions. The union says this is a matter yet to be resuscitated by the Sector Council.

THE REVIEW OF THE HOUSING POLICY

The matter, according to BOSETU, was discussed at the Education Sector Council (ESC). Parties agreed to a joint consultative process that commended prior to COVID-19 but could not be completed owing to COVID-19 protocol restrictions. Just like the transfer policy, this is a matter that would be revisited by the ESC.

TEACHING LOADS

BOSETU says the issue became quite heated and topical during the period under review, when teachers loads were adjusted upwards. Some teachers teaching loads were increased to more than it was prescribed in the Establishment Register (ER).

“This matter was discussed at the ESC, and it was agreed that a joint committee to investigate the matter and come up with some possible recommendations to resolve it be established. The Committee was also to investigate the ER to see how it could be reviewed if the need arises. The Committee has since produced a report that is yet to be tabled before the joint Reference Committee (RC) for discussion and consequent adoption.

BOTSWANA EXAMINATIONS COUNSIL (BSE) ISSUES

During the period under review, there has been several engagements with Botswana Examinations Council (BSE) in an attempt to improve the conditions of service for BOSETU members that are being engaged by the Council.

“It is important to state that the general membership should note that the power of nay trade union rests on the support of its membership. We therefore can only be successful in improving the conditions of service for members engaged by BEC if members support the union by taking appropriate instructions that would assist that BEC should come to the party.”

The Sector Committee through the established National Examination Consultative Forum (NECF) has been engaging with BEC officials on a Memorandum of Agreement that would establish a framework within which parties engage.

“Parties at the level of the NECF have not been able to agree. The main areas of dispute being that, while unions demand for a negotiation forum, BEC on the other hand want a consultative forum. Parties at the NECF level have deadlocked on this matter and has been referred to the joint Referecne Committee composed of the Executives of BEC and those of the traded unions.

BOSETU says this difference that has resulted in the absence of a platform for negotiations being an MOA has resulted in parties not being able to engage on course work, invigilation and marking rates for the 2022/23 cycle of examinations.

“It is therefore in this vein that educators are called upon to withhold any course marks that are due and should not enter any contract with BEC on invigilation and marking until such time that unions would have directed otherwise

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