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A ranger’s cry

Wildlife ranger speak out on injustice

In the midst of the unprecedented rise in the poaching of rhinos and elephants, some of the frustrated Wildlife Rangers are beginning to speak up and shed light on what could be the main problem hampering the country’s conservation efforts.

A former Wildlife Officer 1, Thatayaone Lexion Mpatane, who retired from service in 2018 out of frustration told The Voice in an exclusive interview that the current poaching trend is likely to persist if issues affecting wildlife officers are not addressed.

Mpatane joined the Wildlife employ in 2010 as an Assistant Wildlife Officer and at the time of his resignation he had been promoted to Wildlife Officer 1.

The Francistown native who has a long running Industrial court case with the employer told The Voice that his trouble started when he was unprocedurally transferred from his work station Lone Tree to Gantsi.

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“I was given a technical post in Gantsi while I’m a professional,” he said.

“This is not an isolated case. There are many of my colleagues who find themselves under the same situation. It’s a simple case of maladministration and a simmering issue at the heart of the civil service,” he said.

RANGER IN ACTION: Mpatane

“The biggest challenge at the moment is that you’ll find that a unit within the wildlife will only have one graduate and the rest are people who joined with very low qualifications many years ago. Any graduate who joins is sent to do menial tasks,” claimed Mpatane.

The soft spoken and highly eloquent wildlife officer said he had a long running case with his employer at the Industrial Court in Gaborone.

“I realised that I stood no chance at the Industrial Court after my union abandoned me. The only sensible thing to do was to withdraw the matter from the Industrial Court and seek relief from the High Court,” he said.

In court documents seen by this publication, Mpatane wrote his case withdrawal letter on 3rd February and requested a prompt meeting with the bench clerk to inspect the file.

“I needed material such as pleadings that’d be of use on the matter with the High Court because I’ll be seeking for additional reliefs, which the Industrial Court cannot grant,” he said.

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However according to Mpatane while the court provided him with the documents the one he needed the most was conspicuously missing.

“The court order confirming that I withdrew the matter was not among the documents and when I inquired further I was told the Judge, President Tebogo Maruping had refused to write the order asserting that he had already heard the case and would write judgement,” he said.

“I found this shocking because according to rule of the Industrial Court a notice to withdraw is sufficient since the matter was yet to be sat down,” he said.

“The court does not have the discretion to decide whether a mater can be withdrawn or not, the rules are to that effect are prescriptive that my application alone is sufficient,” said Mpatane.

Mpate based his reasoning on rule 52 of the Rules of the Industrial Court which states that: “If a party wishes to withdraw a matter the party must file a notice of the withdrawal on the Registrar and serve a copy of the notice on the other parts of the proceedings.”

Efforts to get a comment from the Registrar were unsuccessful.

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