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Bad start to the new year for cow thief

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A 30-year-old Maun man convicted of stock theft will languish behind bars until March to learn his fate.

Having been found guilty of stealing a cow and its calf valued at P3, 500, Tokollo Tsetse must now adapt to prison life as he faces a possible sentence of five years in jail.

The theft is believed to have occurred some time between April and May 2018 at Tsibogolamatebele cattlepost near Maun. The stolen animals belonged to one Kehaletse Xhanie

Presiding over the case, Magistrate Mulalo found Tsetse guilty after the prosecution, with the help of their four witnesses, were able to prove their case against him.

“You are convicted of stock theft on the basis that the cattle were found bearing a strange brand mark HUD2 as opposed to Kehaletse’s TDX of which the veterinary confirmed that it belonged to you,” ruled the Magistrate.

“The accused person in his sworn statement told the court that he lost his branding Iron of which he never reported to the police. Later he changed his statement to say that some unidentified people admitted to branding the cattle with the belief that they belonged to the accused since they were in his kraal. The contradiction of your statements is proof that you were not truthful, it was just an afterthought to mislead the court,” continued Mulalo.

During trial, Tsetse did not call any witness, claiming those he intended to call to his defence had died while he was in jail.

The prosecution backed-up their case with the testimony of Kehaletse and his brother Keoagile Mothibi, who told court that the cattle went missing and came back with a strange mark.

“My brother and I share the same kraal and one of his expectant cows went missing only to come back branded in a new brand mark on top of my brother’s TDX brand,” Mothibi stated.

The third witness, Crime Scene Investigator, Constable Meleko Paulson Mandevu revealed he went and took detailed photographs of the cattle before compiling a photo album.

The court papers state the cattle in question were later released into Kehaletse’s possession.

The cow has since died and the calf went missing. A photo album of the cattle was thus used in court as evidence that the named cattle existed.

Sentencing has been set for 6 March.

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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out

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Wildlife and National Parks department has ruled out Anthrax as a killer disease for elephants along some villages in the Okavango delta.

As of Friday last week, at least 110 dead elephants were discovered in areas of Seronga, Gunotsoga and Eretsha in the past three weeks and were suspected to have died from Anthrax.

However the Anthrax laboratory tests have come back negative, leaving the government departments searching for more answers. 

“Laboratory results have ruled out Anthrax and we are awaiting more results,” explained regional Wildlife coordinator in Maun, Dimakatso Ntshebe.

Ntshebe said his department through the help of veterinary department services are still conducting further tests to find out whether or not this mysterious disease is not a result of poisoning.

The disease according to Ntshebe causes the giant’s front legs to weaken and therefore the unwell animal walks in uncoordinated manner and ultimately drops to its death.

“We don’t know what could be the cause of this disease but we are working around the clock to find out and hopefully work on the cure,” added Ntshebe.

Some samples are to be sent to South Africa for further testing. “We could have taken other samples to the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but because of COVID-19 that brought everything to almost a standstill, we could not send them,” Ntshebe explained before adding that, “before coronavirus outbreak, Botswana and Zimbabwe were in talks and have entered into some agreements including exportation and importation of certain medications, but we have not yet concluded the matter regarding samples, that is why we have not been able to send samples to Zimbabwe.”

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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