Mmegi Online :: The highs and lows of 2017
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Wednesday 19 December 2018, 16:17 pm.
The highs and lows of 2017

The year 2017 was a busy year with its highs and lows. The year was full of challenges and opportunities. Mmegi Staff Writers in the northern bureau recap on some of the major stories that made news headlines as the curtain falls on the hectic year 2017
By Staff Writer Fri 22 Dec 2017, 13:10 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: The highs and lows of 2017

F/town deputy mayor ousted

Early this year, controversy-ridden Kanana ward councillor, Lechedzani Modenga was ousted as Francistown deputy mayor. Satellite South councillor Godisang Radisigo would later be sworn-in, in his place. Modenga’s tenure as deputy mayor was often mired in controversy.

A motion to ditch him was tabled by fellow Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor Andy Boatile. Boatile said that Modenga’s continuous absence from the council proceedings was a greater source of worry to councillors and the Francistown community.


Modenga faces fraud charges

In February, Modenga, who was spectacularly ousted from his position as deputy mayor by both BDP and opposition councilors, appeared in court for obtaining by false pretences.

The state alleges that on different dates in April, 2015, in Francistown, Modenga unlawfully and intentionally obtained P45,000 from Karabo Nkwai by falsely representing to her that as FCC’s deputy mayor, he will use his position to facilitate that Nkwai be allocated two plots owned by the FCC. Modenga-who is famous for his bad boy image, was arrested by police officers from Gaborone at the BDP congress in July after he cast his vote.

He was arrested after he failed to honour several appointments they agreed with him in relation to four counts of obtaining by false pretences that he also allegedly committed.


The resurgence of Mowana mine

The mine resumed full operations in April this year. It currently employs over 200 people. South African firm, Pen Min Holdings bought the Mine for a whopping P89 million in December last year. Pen Min acquired the Mine through its locally registered enterprise Leboam Holdings, which is wholly owned by Cradle Arch Investments.

The mine was previously under care and maintenance for more than a year. Mowana was placed under care and maintenance after its previous owners African Copper failed to pay its creditors who then applied for the liquidation of the mine. Then, the closure of Mowana led to 400 direct and indirect job losses.


The BDP Congress in Tonota

The Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi team, dubbed Team Dubai because of its affluence, scored a landslide victory at the BDP congress in Tonota where he contested for the position of party chairperson.

At the party’s July congress, Masisi attracted 769 votes against Selebi -Phikwe East legislator and Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofo Molefhi who walked away with only 261 votes.

Those backing Molefhi later accused Masisi of buying votes and using state resources to win the elections. It also emerged that money was used to buy votes, as it was apparent cash was in abundant supply at the BDP elective congress.


BMD congress climaxes into blood bath

Intense fighting was the highlight of the Botswana Movement for Democratic Change (BMD) July elective congress in Bobonong.

Members of the Ndaba Gaolathe’s faction and a rival faction associated with Sydney Pilane pelted each other with stones.

The pelting of stones lasted for over an hour. Four people were confirmed injured and two of them were referred to Sekgoma and Nyangabgwe Referral hospitals with serious injuries. The injured duo had suffered head and eye injuries respectively. The victims are also yet to fully recover from their injuries.

Gaolathe’s team arrived at the congress venue at Matshekge Hill Senior Secondary School in the morning and they were told that they were not eligible delegates.

There were heated exchanges between Gaolathe’s supporters and security guards, which culminated into bloody fighting. The security guards were armed with knives and stones among others. Both parties ended up holding separate elective congresses. Gaolathe and his backers later dumped the UDC to form the Alliance for Progressives (AP) while Pilane remained the BMD president.


The death of Elmon Tafa 

The life-long activist, leader and ideologue of the Botswana National Front (BNF) died in June. He died after a long illness. At the time of his death, he was the political education secretary for the party. Tafa served the BNF in this portfolio for years. His remains were interred at the Chadibe village cemetery.


Morake Dies 

Former education minister Kebatlamang Morake died in August after a long illness. Morake, served across various ministries and at one point acted as the country’s president. In addition, Morake, who was a former teacher, has often been credited for helping revolutionise the country’s education system.

Nicknamed ‘Baby Shoe’ because of his tiny stature, Morake was also the first Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) executive secretary. The 86-year-old was laid to rest at his home village, Tonota.


Tshimoyapula by-election

The new Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) officially started using its symbol at the by-election. The symbol


is a royal blue umbrella enclosed in a circle of the same colour, with the party name written underneath.

One of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) activists Dabutha, contested the election as an independent candidate against the party’s will. She also campaigned using the BCP colours before she was barred by the IEC.

The BCP later slapped Dabutha with a suspension from the party pending a disciplinary hearing for ‘illegally’ using its lime colour and contesting the by-election independently while she is still its member. She ditched the party before she was subjected to a hearing. The ruling party emerged victorious at the polls.


Prison break

It was indeed a busy year at the courts here. The year started with the escape from custody of 18 inmates who were incarcerated at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants (FCII).

The escapees who are inclusive of Batswana and Zimbabweans were facing a slew of serious charges like murder, rape, robbery and other crimes. The police later managed to arrest 11 of the 18 escapees. Some of them later pleaded guilty of escaping from lawful custody and were sentenced to six months in jail. The police are still on the lookout for the other escapees.


Mystery death of a

special constable

In May, the Francistowners woke up to sad news that a popular salon owner here, Bongani Solomon had allegedly murdered Daniel Mooketsi, a special constable.

The State alleged that Solomon, 36, murdered Mooketsi, 26, at his Block 4 rented residence towards the end of May.  Mooketsi was based at Francistown Central Police Station and was found by his girlfriend hanging on the roof of his house when she returned from work.

Charges against Solomon were later dropped because of insufficient evidence linking him to the murder.

However, the police have vowed to continue to investigate the issue until they have sufficient evidence to prosecute whoever is behind the suspected murder.


Serial rapist gets life sentence

The year would never be complete without recapping the story of a rape convict who was literally sentenced to life in prison in connection with a number of rape offences. The serial rapist, Thatayaone Nka was sentenced to 45 years in jail after being convicted of three counts of rape.

Nka was dubbed ‘Forest Evil’ because he had a penchant of preying on schoolgirls on their way to school in the bushes and was already serving another 22 years in prison for two separate rape offences. He still has other pending rape cases that are at varying stages of trial.


BCP launches lawsuit over EVMs

Another case that has put the nation especially supporters of opposition parties on tenterhooks was the famous lawsuit that was instituted by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) against the state (Attorney General) over the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the 2019 general elections.

The BCP and parties under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) strongly believe that the machines can be manipulated in favour of the BDP while the state believes the machines will speed up the electoral process and are not susceptible to hacking as the opposition parties alleges.

The chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and secretary to the IEC respectively are other respondents in the matter. The matter will go for initial case management conference next year in March setting the stage for the real arguments in the case to finally be argued in court.


CJ, judges’ war

The nation, legal fraternity here and world at large watched with keen interest how the case involving four judges who purportedly undermined the authority of the Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo following the infamous annual judicial conference that was held in Mahalapye in 2015 will conclude. At some point, Justice Phadi Solomon who presided over the matter ruled against Justices Tshepo Motswagole, Lot Moroka, Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe and Godfrey Nthomiwa.

They refused to apologise to Dibotelo and wanted the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to be interdicted from continuing with its investigation against them in respect of a petition dated August 17, 2015 pending finalisation of review proceedings to be instituted by the applicants among other reliefs sought.

The matter however, came to an amicable end last week after the Administration of Justice (AoJ) released a statement stating that the judges have withdrawn the notorious petition and “all consequential litigation flowing there from”.

The Judges also agreed to pay costs of proceedings before Justice Phadi Solomon as taxed or agreed. 

The JSC and the Judges now regard the matter as settled, according to the statement from the AoJ.

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