FRANCISTOWN: The harrowing plight of Esther Marman who was forced to seek shelter inside the community service centre at Tatitown police station after being evicted from her home, will certainly send chills down one’s spine.
The Francistown City Council (FCC) formally evicted Marman, a homeless pensioner who is in her 70s, from her Aerodrome home in 2011.
Several senior government officials privy to her predicament, said the septuagenarian was legally notified by the FCC of plans to evict her from her home on technical grounds because her plot was on top of drainage sewers.
The officials who spoke to Mmegi this week on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk about the issue, said that after Marman was notified of the eviction, the FCC moved swiftly to allocate her another plot in Aerodrome before she was evicted.
The officials stated that while the process of moving Marman to another plot was still going on, the FCC compensated her with over P200,000 as money to build her new home.
They added that Marman, who is married in community of property to Ben Marman, was given the money after property experts from the FCC carried out an evaluation to determine the value of her home.
“In the Setswana spirit of consultation and respect for elders, the officials from the municipality told Esther that she was free to remain in her old home while they were in the process of getting her a new plot. They also told her that she must know that she would not remain in the plot forever.”
“They however, told Esther that she must make sure that she constructs her new home within reasonable time because they would at one point have no option but to seek a court order to move her out of her old home if she chose to remain on it forever,” said one of the officials.
“Esther duly obliged and signed documents showing that she was given a new plot and money by the FCC to move to a new plot,” another official said Wednesday.
The official added: “We also held numerous meetings with Esther and her husband about the whole eviction and compensation process. The husband bequeathed all his rights in relation to the allocation of a new plot and compensation to his wife”.
However, things took a turn for the worst after Esther Marman did not honour her legal obligations with the municipality.
The officials revealed that Marman decided to stay in her home from 2011 until 2017 which forced the FCC to obtain a court order to evict her from her old home.
Out of compassion, the sources said, one of Marman’s neighbours gave her accommodation for about eight months last year after the municipality demolished her house.
“Esther however, burnt her bridges with her new accommodator, forcing the neighbour to chuck her out of her home. The neighbour then went to Tatitown Customary Court to obtain an order to remove Esther from her place after she refused to move. The court told Esther that she had no legal right to refuse to move from her neighbour’s place,” said the source.
The police, another source added, then went to Marman’s neighbour’s place and told her to move all her property from her neighbour’s home because the neighbour no longer wanted to live with her.
“The properties were removed from Esther’s neighbour’s home and
“This left the driver with no option but to return to Tatitown police station were he offloaded Marman’s properties in the presence of police officers,” the source added. Some of the police officers told Mmegi that the police were providing Marman with food meant for suspects locked in the police cells because she had no food and money to buy herself food.
“We however don’t know if she ever bathe because we don’t have bathing facilities here. This arrangement obviously does not bode well for us and is disturbing our daily operations. “One of Esther’s relatives who stays in Bluetown has agreed to give her shelter. Before you arrived, a truck had just ferried some of Esther’s belongings to Bluetown and is coming to load the remaining ones,” the source said.
When asked about Marman’s dilemma, the acting station commander of Tatitown police referred Mmegi to the president of the Tatitown customary court.
The customary court president also referred Mmegi to the FCC authorities saying that they were better people placed to talk about the issue because they know it from the beginning to the end. When contacted for comment, Ben Marman confirmed that he was indeed still married to Esther in community of property. “I know she was compensated with over P200, 000 but I don’t know how she used that money. She used the money alone. I am still in shock about what is happening because even in 2011, the FCC authorities did not want me to comment as my wife’s husband when plans were underway to relocate her from our old plot. It is better that you ask the council authorities about what happened because they are better placed to answer your questions,” said the estranged husband.
He added that his home that was demolished by FCC authorities had seven rooms and a screen wall.
FCC’s deputy town clerk for finance and administration Botshe Mathodi confirmed Marman’s eviction from her Aerodrome plot.
She added that the municipality followed all due processes to evict her. “The council has long obtained a court order to evict Esther from her plot. She was then given a plot and compensated accordingly after an evaluation to determine the value of her property was carried out,” said Mathodi. On the issue of why the woman was compensated in the absence of her husband while they were married in community of property, Mathodi explained that, “Ben told us that it would be cumbersome for him to come to Francistown on a regular basis to complete the compensation and other incidental processes because he was now living full time at the cattlepost hence her wife was given the compensation in his absence,” Mathodi explained. In the evening on Wednesday, Mmegi went to Tatitown police station and found out that Marman had moved all her property to Bluetown.