FRANCISTOWN: He is 81- years-old, blind, neglected and is one hell of an angry old man.
Meet Gabaakelwe Letebele who spares no one his venom, not even his “chief”, President Ian Khama, as Letebele said he is bonafide Mongwato who should be treated with some respect.
First to receive the salvos from the octogenarian’s sharp tongue was the Francistown City Council (FCC) who he accused of leaving him to his devices, despite his infirmity and lack of sight.
Letebele says the council could, at least, have done is some minor maintenance to his dilapidated Block 7 house, but have failed to.
When Monitor arrived at the home, the frail diabetic Letebele was barely mobile.
He immediately complained about the council treating him like a foreigner.
“Ke ipotsa gore ke eng ke sotiwa jaana mo Botswana okare ke moZimbabwe mme ke tswa ko Serowe ko go Khama. I worked for this country more than 20 years paying tax, it hurts me that the government has no qualms abandoning me,” he said.
He says he knows he, and any other citizen, has the right to ask for help in his condition.
“I am sick and blind. I am unable to do anything for myself anymore. I was registered under the destitute programme for years and had a coupon which I used to buy groceries, but I was shocked to learn that my card was blocked in April this year, after my wife went to the shop to find the card was blocked, “ said the grey-haired old man.
Immediately, his energetic wife, Pidia Letebele, who is 20 years his junior, chipped in and started relating the story of how the council abandoned them after their house burned down.
“Our house was burnt down back in 2009 and council promised to help us. We have no hope left at all. I tried to follow-up several times, pleading for help because my husband and I are struggling,” she said.
Letebele said that they pleaded with council to at least maintain their house as they had promised five years back because they are no longer able to source any finances.
She said her tenants, who are students, are complaining about their damaged doors and threatening to move out if the house is not maintained.
She said she is afraid that if they move out, she will never have other tenants because of the state the house is in; a situation she says
“I am not working. I depend on Ipelegeng which I work for three months and give others a chance. Even if I find a job, I would be leaving my blind husband alone which really hurts me because he cannot do anything for himself, “ she said.
She said that the only help that they received from council was in the form of food, clothing and coupons, that earlier this year they decided to block without notifying them.
“I went to the social worker to enquire about the coupon and they told me that we should use money that we raise from rent to buy food. The little that we earn I pay SHHA, I also have debt with BPC and pay water bills,” she said.
Her husband interrupted saying, “it looks like they want us to fail paying for this yard so that they can take it from us and we become homeless.”
She said that her husband is so afected by his circumstances that he has become depressed and is much more sickly.
The mother of seven said that she tried to register under the Poverty Eradication Programme for a small business to support her family, but has not been given a responded.
She said even three of her children also tried to register for the programme, but were also unsucessful.
City clerk, Leboile Israel, said that he was not aware of the couple’s situation and asked for their contacts and residence and promised to follow up on the issue to establish why their coupon was blocked.
“Yes, it’s true if someone has an income that gives him more than P250 per month, we consider such person capable of feeding themselves, but we assess the situation in detail and help if there is a need. If they have school going children we help by paying their school fees,” said Israel.
Israel said that at the moment they are targeting people who are homeless and building them houses. He added that they can not leave the homeless people and help the ones who need only maintenance for their properties.
“We are currently in the process of building 15 houses to people who are homeless and need shelter. I will go and see their situation. If there is a need we will help,” he said.