Mmegi Online :: Sex crimes against minors grave concern
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Last Updated
Monday 11 December 2017, 03:12 am.
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Sex crimes against minors grave concern

The rate at which sexual offences against minors have been increasing in Botswana raises eyebrows. Immediate attention is needed due to the recent notorious sex offenses, observes Mmegi staff writer, PINI BOTHOKO
By Pini Bothoko Fri 04 Aug 2017, 15:02 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Sex crimes against minors grave concern








The Botswana Police Service spokesperson, assistant commissioner Witness Bosija says statistics show that from January to May this year they recorded 171 cases of defilement.

He revealed that last year there were 617 cases as compared to 543 cases in 2015. 

He said the numbers might be increasing but people should know that this is through their awareness and outreach programmes because people are now coming out and such issues are brought out into the open and appropriate action is taken against the perpetrators.

“In the past Batswana treated such cases as top secret but through our community outreach and seminars, cases of this nature are being reported.  We have also partnered with schools because most of the victims are school-going children, to report anything to us if they can identify any abnormalities in the learners’ behaviour.  We also addressed Dikgosi through police forums regarding such offenses and since then such cases are reported and prosecuted before court,” Bosija explains.

On Monday a man aged 42 and also the coach of Mogoditshane Fighters women’s football team appeared before the Broadhurst Magistrate Court for raping a 13-year-old girl he also coaches.

It is alleged that on June 17, 2017 after a football practice he took the girl to his place and had unlawful carnal knowledge of the girl without her consent. It was revealed that he locked the young girl in his house and released her after three days.

In another matter involving Hillcrest International School, a teacher is being investigated for allegedly sexually harassing a 12-year-old female student. The suspect is also linked with a similar case in Francistown in which he raped a mentally disturbed then 11-year-old girl and will appear again in court in October in this case.  Mmegi is informed that Broadhurst police are investigating the Hillcrescent school incident.

 It is alleged that on June 28, 2017, the alleged Physical Education teacher, after giving other learners their reports in a lesson he instructed the student to follow him to his office to collect hers. On arrival it was reported that he instructed the learner to close the office door and he went on to fondle and sexual assault the little girl.  It was revealed that afterwards he gave her a gold medal and upon asking him what the medal was for, it is alleged he told the student to keep it for herself and not to tell anyone about what transpired in his office.

A letter purportedly written by the school’s director of administration, one N. Suhail went viral on social media with the school informing parents about the teachers’ acts and assuring them that the school is taking all the precautionary measures to ensure that their children are safe. It is alleged that parents of Hillcrest International School are furious and have arranged to petition the school management for hiring a teacher with a criminal charge and still being investigated for sexually abusing a minor.

In another matter, a 26-year-old man also appeared before Extension II Magistrate Court to face a single count of indecent assault for allegedly touching his daughter’s private parts.  The court revealed that the father of the two-year-old girl has been unlawfully touching his daughter’s private parts since she was five-months-old.

It was revealed that in the past the suspect went to an extent of ripping off his daughter’s nappies when she was just five-months-old and unlawfully touched her private parts. 

The prosecution on this matter questioned the suspect’s mental health and took him to Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital for mental tests and the court is currently waiting for the report.

These are not the only cases. In the past fathers, stepfathers, uncles to mention but a few appeared before court for sexually abusing the minors. This, supported by defilement statistics, might mean that the country might as well give child sexual abuse the status of a national threat so that all can prioritise it.

Reached for comment on the matter, Kgomotso Jongman a social worker at the University of Botswana (UB) said whatever the reason, this highlights the urgent need to tackle this

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problem from an early age. He said parents as well as caretakers can play an important role by ensuring children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe.

He revealed that to be working closely with community social workers he observed that defilement and paedophile cases are of concern and need immediate attention.  He said the challenge is that Batswana are selective on what they want to discuss. He said usually the people who discuss sexual offenses with their children are middle and high-class families who understand and take their children’s rights seriously.

“Most parents in Central, North East and in the Gantsi districts, because of their social economic status, usually do not protect their children’s rights. Most of the cases in which minors who are sexually abused with parents slipping the cases under the carpet are commonly from such areas.  These are the same people, who usually look at the perpetrator’s status in the community and fail to report their acts to the police,” Jongman said.

He stated that poverty takes a lot from a person, as they tend to think that their opinion does not matter. He added that such people cannot refuse to do anything, especially for a wealthy person. He said there is a need for such people to be empowered to know that despite their situations their rights matter too.

Jongman said it might be time for the boy-child to be sensitised from a young age that the girl-child has the same rights as they have.  he said this is because the boy-child usually grows up thinking that he has power over the girl-child, of which such a boy-child tends to be abusive towards women and children when older.

He revealed that culturally gender and power are also a concern as males think that they have power over females. This power might come from a man’s resources over his partner and is likely to have power over her in their relationship or marriage.

Jongman disclosed to have observed that usually women are gatekeepers of sexual abuse against minors as when an offense has been committed they always blame the girl-child. 

For his part the senior counsellor at Women Against Rape, Gabalape Tauejele who deals with perpetrators disclosed that usually after committing such offenses they always have a reason but he has realised that the problem is power, especially in males.

“Even on our regular dialogues with them (the suspects) they claim that the girl-child’s appearance, especially the body structure is the one that made them ‘propose love’ to them.  They sometimes claim that they had met with them at bars hence thinking that they were old enough, but this does not define one’s responsibility as a man because you can propose someone love and that same night without knowing important things like their age, decide to sleep with them,” Tauejele said.

He called on parents to take the responsibility of teaching their girl-child at a young age that their privates are private, to always remember that their body belongs to them, to be open to talk about secrets that upset them and to speak up to be helped.

He stated that this calls for everyone’s involvement in bringing back the community to parenting that existed decades ago in making sure that the matter is addressed collectively.  Tauejele said sex offenses against minors can be stopped in spite of the crimes having been committed by the parent’s partners, relative or someone of ranking in the community.

He said such cases need to be reported to the police to end the horrific acts.He conceded that correctional services like prison are important in rehabilitating offenders, but what is lacking is the psychological part because usually the community does not welcome the perpetrators after serving their sentence. 

He said that he has observed that usually the perpetrators are repeat offenders because the society fails to welcome them back and they decided to commit crimes so that they can return to prison as the only place that welcomes them.

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