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Bouncing back from disability to thrive

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WHEELCHAIR-BOUND WOMAN LAUNCHES FASHION LINE

At the age of 33, Mavis Mtonga is fast making a mark in the fashion world despite a car accident that left her paralysed in her lower body in 2013.

Re-living the traumatic moment, which nearly cut her life short, Mtonga, who hails from Zambia but has been living in Botswana for the past 18 years said she was on her way to Zambia when her family got involved in a car accident that drastically altered her life forever.

“I was with my father and aunt, taking my grandmother to Zambia when the accident occured 10 kilometres away from Nata. It all happened so fast yet it seemed like it was in slow motion. Our car had a tyre burst and overturned three times.”

she said as her voice trailed off, giving way to a deep breath followed by a long pause.

“And then I realized I could not feel the other part of my body just below the waist. I saw people surrounding us but I could not make up their faces, people were asking questions but at the time I could not understand what was really happening,” she said.

She was flown to Princess Marina Hospital and later with the assistance of Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund they were transferred to Bokamoso Private Hospital where they underwent surgeries.

HARDWORKING: Mtonga

Her aunt died from heavy loss of blood. “I was devastated.” She said.

However, the hardest thing for Mtonga was to accept that she was not going to be able to walk again.

“It was really difficult to accept that I was going to live the rest of my life on a wheelchair. I was trained on how to be independent on a wheel chair and miraculously I learned the skill in two weeks while others took more than that,” she said with a teary voice.

Before the accident Mtonga had already applied to study Fashion and Design at Arthur Portland School and her application was approved in 2016 so she started school in 2017.

“When I first came to class, the lecturers were apprehensive about my ability to cope in an environment full of sewing machines of different sizes but with their help I had to figure out a way to use those machines. I opted to use the small ones, which had a footer but I had to find a way to improvise by using my hands instead because my feet don’t work,” she explained.

To date, Mtonga has not only survived the car accident but she has also gone on to thrive in the fashion industry pushing her own brand in her own backyard.

“I have a year now in this industry and things are looking up for me. I have a few loyal clients who usually rock my designs and keep on coming back, which suggests that I am doing something right. I hope to grow and my vision is take my work overseas one day and live my dream of being a high flying fashion designer,” quipped the determined young woman.

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How Gov bluddered on first Corona virus death

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*Hundreds exposed to the virus

Government secrecy and unreliable communication this week dealt a devastating blow to the fight against Corona virus, exposing hundreds of people to infection in Gaborone and surrounding areas.

As people reeled from the announcement of the first Corona Virus death in the country on Tuesday afternoon, it has emerged that government had known about the 79- year- old Ramotswa woman’s status since Thursday last week and concealed the information both to the family and mortuary that handled her body.

On Wednesday afternoon traumatised Babereki Ka Lorato Mortuary staff spoke of how they were unnecessarily exposed to the deadly virus.

Speaking in an interview with The Voice Newspaper on Wednesday, the concerned Chairman of the mortuary, Martin Gabokake said the woman was brought in a body bag on Friday.

“Our employees asked why someone who had died at Bamalete Lutheran hospital a day before was brought in a body bag and they were told she died of asthma, and so they let the body in and handled it in the manner they normaly handle all other bodies,” Gabobake explained.

He went on further to explain that it was only yesterday that to their shock and horror the staff was told of the true nature of the old woman’s passing.
“ Had we been told the truth to begin with, the body would have been handled in a safer way. The fact that they brought her in a body bag means they new something and they blatantly lied to us,” Gabobake said.

Her funeral was also not accorded the security screening associated with Covid-19 deaths, a source has revealed. Health officials have since asked villagers who had attended the old woman’s funeral to submit for testing as they to may have been exposed to the virus.

This was another terrible blunder by government. Had they disclosed that the old woman had died of COVID -19 or even told us that she was a suspected case, most of us would have kept away,” said the source.

Meanwhile government moved to quarantine 14 family members on Tuesday. All mortuary employees and close associates of the woman were also locked up for observation on Wednesday.

Colleagues of the deceased grandson, who works for a local hotel, have also been summoned for mandatory testing.

“Her grandson (name known to this publication) continued working with us and it was business as usual. He did not know his grandmother had the virus and died from it. They were very close. He is the one who took care of her and took her for hospital visits,” the worried colleague has revealed.

Efforts to get a comment from the grandson were futile at the time of going to press. In a telephone interview from quarantine he told The Voice that he wished for privacy.

Botswana has recorded one death as a result of the COVID-19 with three positive cases currently stable at the Sir Ketumile Teaching Hospital in Gaborone.

There are 189 negative results, 593 lab test performed and 1856 people currently on quarantine.

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Politicians clash over Covid-19 meeting

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The fight against Covid-19 stepped into the periphery of partisan politics this week as the absence of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders sparked accusations and counter-accusations over their invitation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s closed meeting.

UDC President, Duma Boko and party vice president, Dumelang Saleshando, were not part of the delegation that attended the three-hour long meeting.

Although Masisi stated that Boko, like other party leaders was invited, the UDC has vehemently denied the claim.

In a press release that was issued last night the UDC said. “We have noted the events that have been evolving around the Covid-19 pandemic, its a serious matter that requires all of us to work genuinely. We value and encourage national dialogue on important matters such as the fight against Covid 19. The truth is that the UDC president has not received any invitation from Office of the President and we call OP to provide proof.”

However, when the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa was asked about calls made to him by OP, he said, ” I was asked about Boko’s whereabouts by Kaelo Molefe and I told him I was in Phikwe. I asked him to check him at his house. This morning I got another call from Professor Mpho Molomo who said he had Boko’s invitation to a meeting with President Masisi and I suggested that they go to his house, an address which is popular within the government enclave. I indicated to him that I had received a similar call from Kaelo Molefhe and he said he was with him. Kaelo knows where Boko stays having been his associate in the build-up to the 2014 General Elections. So quite frankly I doubt he would say he does not know Boko’s house. As regards Nick and Keorapetse I cannot comment on their behalf, ” explained Mohwasa last night.

Dithapelo Keorapetse too said that the OP was being playful. “Why would they contact me for DGB? They are aware of his PA, VP, Secretary General, Spokesperson and UDC NEC. These are the people from who to check him. Whoever wants the UDC President from me for official things is playing. The state has been to his house several times. How did they suddenly forget his place of abode? Even Kaelo knows Boko’s House from his UDC days, ” said Keorapetse.

The accusations did not go well with the BDP Chairman of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, who expressed concern that the UDC was turning a pandemic into a political mudsling.

He said that all efforts including calls, text, WhatsApp messages to Boko, Moeti, Keorapetse and Boko’s bodyguard were made without any success. “There is a communication trail to prove this. UDC must know when to come to the table and be patriotic on issues on national interest such as COVID-19, its very disappointing for a party calling themselves an alternative government to behave in this manner but Batswana are watching and we know they will punish them for this.”

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