As the curtain falls on 2018, Staff Writers LEBOGANG MOSIKARE & CHAKALISA DUBE take a look at some news stories from the northern bureau that captured the attention of many readers. They report that 2018 was a year of mixed fortunes in the socio, political and economic spheres
FCC feeds pupils rotten food
In June Mmegi broke a story about Francistown City Council (FCC) employees accusing senior management officials of forcing them to supply primary schools in the city with rotten sorghum that was to be consumed by pupils.
The FCC management forced their staff to supply the sorghum and maize meal amongst other rations that were not in a desirable state of consumption. The authorities at FCC vehemently denied that the council was supplying schools within its boundaries with rotten food. They would later yield to public pressure and own up to the rot at the FCC supplies department.
After a series of stories by Mmegi, the council started pulling off some of the supplies from the schools’ storerooms and its Area G main warehouse to be destroyed at the landfill, as the wares had turned bad.
Nata/Gweta ravaged by floods again
Early this year, heavy rains experienced around the country left behind a trail of destruction in the Nata/Gweta constituency. For some weeks, the constituency was inundated by a near-storm surge of several centimetres above normal.
The rains damaged some houses and uprooted trees in major parts of the constituency. Homes in Gweta and Zoroga villages were completely submerged in water. In Gweta people from 112 households were evacuated and offered refuge at the village brigade. Furthermore, in Zoroga people living in 59 households were evacuated and offered temporary shelter at the village primary school.
Violence in public schools
School violence has emerged as a major concern in public schools in recent years and this year was no exception. One of the teachers at Matshekge Senior Secondary School was brutally beaten by a group of students in October. A week later a Form 3 student at Semane Secondary killed his 16-year-old schoolmate. During the same period another violent activity involving students was recorded at Mmadinare Senior Secondary School.
Following the death of the Serowe teenager, government released a statement indicating that any student found in possession of a weapon such as knife, blade or similar within schools will be subjected to an immediate 20-day suspension.
Teacher trade unions said the statement was reactionary and served no purpose. Unions added that government should move swiftly and address fundamental issues that cause violence in schools.
Venson-Moitoi dissolves Sowa Town Council
In October the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, dissolved Sowa Town Council. She would days later renege on her decision.
When she dissolved the council, the minister said the decision was in accordance with the Local Government Act Section 89 (1) Clause C, which gave the minister powers to dissolve the council.
The Act states that where the council fails without good cause to perform any of its functions, the minister shall exercise the powers conferred under the section and dissolve the council.
The Sowa Township Authority was not convening prior to Venson-Moitoi’s decision, as councillors were not forthcoming for various reasons. Among the reasons were disputes over the mileage payment. The civic leaders were insistent that they were eligible to mileage payment whilst the council was not ready to pay.
The initial ruling party primaries in Bobonong constituency held in August were acrimonious, with high tension amongst supporters belonging to both Shaw Kgathi and his rival, Francisco Kgoboko.
Kgathi lost the August primaries but was later granted a re-run after complaining that former president Ian Khama campaigned for Kgoboko, something he said, disadvantaged him during the elections.
In addition, Kgathi whose loss was amongst those that yielded a lot of surprises alleged that a sizeable number of voters were trafficked. He had garnered 2,593 votes against Kgoboko’s 4,865. Kgathi was floored again during a re-run of the primaries held recently. Kgoboko garnered 4,212 against Kgathi’s 1,811.
Some political pundits felt that the strength of Kgathi’s protest was weak. Additionally, there was a general feeling that he was granted a re-run because of his association with influential party figures.
The fight between Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Attorney General (AG), chairperson of the Independent Electoral
However, the mood surrounding the case fizzled out following the change of guard on April 1 this year, after President Mokgweetsi Masisi ascended to the presidency. A few months after he succeeded Ian Khama, Masisi stated that the EVMs would not be used during the polls next year.
At some point the BCP tried albeit without success to be allowed to make an application to file its amended declaration in the high stakes EVMs case but lost that application. Justice Lot Moroka adjourned the matter to February 22 next year for the parties to deal with preliminary issues.
High Court outlaws adultery
One case that changed the legal discourse of the country is the one in which the High Court here ruled that the adultery law is no longer consistent with the good morals of contemporary Botswana.
Moroka made the observation in a case in which Oreneile Phindile Mhotsha had wanted the court to evaluate the constitutional and common law validity of the third party delictual actio iniuriarum claim based on adultery pertaining to a civil marriage, in the light of the changing mores of our society.
Delictual actio iniuriarum is a legal phrase meaning an action for delict, which not only seeks to protect an individual’s dignity and reputation, but also his or her physical integrity.
This was in response to a lawsuit for damages filed by Precious Kgaje against her (Mhotsha) whereby the plaintiff alleged adultery between the defendant and the plaintiff’s husband…
The defendant, Moroka noted, also alleged that the delictual actio injuriarum in adultery no longer reflects the moral convictions of society today. There is still a lot of debate about the matter after Moroka made his ruling.
Stepdaughter ‘killer’ denied bail
Another case that had many here talking about involves a former Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) employee Motlatsi Khoto who is charged with raping and murdering his stepdaughter at Marobela village in January this year. Khoto tried without success to apply for bail at the High Court.
The court held that Khoto was not a good candidate for bail because he may commit other crimes while on bail.
Granny ‘rapists and killers’ remanded in custody
Another case that pained a lot of people in Francistown especially the residents of Area W involves two Kgaphamadi men Modisakgotla Keganeditse, 24, and Moabi Morwalela, 21, who are alleged to have robbed Grace Keakantse, 70, a mobile phone worth P249 at her place of residence in Area W during the wee hours of November 17 before proceeding to rape and murder her. The duo was further remanded in custody and will appear in court next year.
Police officer shoots child with service pistol
A recent matter that also captivated the nation is the one in which a police detective based at Gerald police accidentally shot an eight-year-old boy to death with his service pistol was arraigned before court. The policeman, Molemisi Ikalafeng, 48, allegedly killed the child at Tatisiding. Ikalafeng was remanded in custody and will appear in court on January 7 for another mention.
Mowana Copper Mine closed indefinitely
Following the closure of Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) in 2016, another mining closure seems to be on the horizon at Mowana Copper Mine (MCM).The mine has admitted that it is facing cash flow problems and has recently suspended its operations indefinitely. For the past three months, MCM has not been able to pay its workers and service providers well on time. On Wednesday, this week an employee of MCM confirmed that they have not been paid their November salaries.
Following the failure of MCM to pay its workers, the employees took it to the Industrial Court here on Monday but were shocked after MCM told the court that it has since applied to the High Court for liquidation.