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Dry spell for tourist operators

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Dry spell for tourist operators

Cancelled bookings mount in election build-up

Local tour operators confirmed cancellations of bookings by international travellers in the last two months prior to the General Elections.

While some reason it is because of the drying up of the Okavango Delta, others maintain it is due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the elections.

Speaking to Okavango Voice this week, the owner of a mobile safari company in Maun, Bayei Letsatsi, said, “It is true we suffered a lot of cancellations. Not only my company, but all tour operators have experienced the same problem since August.” Despite the hype surrounding the election, Letsatsi feels the cancellations are more to do with the country’s on-going drought.

“What you have to understand is that, above Moremi Game Reserve, we sell the Delta. That is the main attracter of tourists into our area.” However, he noted it was common for tourists to shun African countries during elections.

“It does not only happen to Botswana. Generally tourists avoid travelling to African countries who are holding elections. They avoid election seasons and would rather go to neighbouring countries. They have that fear around elections. They think we may have civil unrest and protests during and post elections!” explained Letsatsi.

Another tour operator, Kenson Kgaga, who is also a Chairman of the Botswana Guides Association (BOGA) confirmed experiencing a number of cancelled bookings.

“The problem is the drought, not elections!” he maintained. Kgaga, who at the time was a councillor for Boro ward, stated that many tourists come to Botswana to enjoy the delta and boat cruises. Thus it makes sense that the dry spell influences them to choose other destinations.

Just last week, Reaboka Mbulawa, who runs a group of safari companies around Maun and in the Okavango Delta, revealed the industry had been hit by cancellations since the start of October.

“This is an early sign that the tourists are reacting to the possible instability by choosing other destinations avoiding Botswana elections deliberately,” reasonedMbulawa, who at the time of the interview had been running for Maun West constituency.

Nonetheless, the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) claims they have not been informed of any cancelled bookings.

Indeed, HATAB’s Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Tebogo Ramakgathi said, “We have not received any report from operators and I don’t think international travellers have anything to fear from Botswana elections. We have never had cancellations of bookings owing to fear of elections outcome.”

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Triple tragedy

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Jealous man butchers ‘love-rival’, hangs girlfriend, kills himself

A white tent pitched in a family’s small, immaculately swept backyard rustles in the strong wind.

Five men sat hunched under the shaking shelter, brought together by a terrible tragedy.

Four days earlier (Thursday 24 October), their daughter, 22-year-old GaoneNgake was brutally murdered by her jealous boyfriend at Mphane farm on the outskirts of Borolong.

Ngake, the mother of a 20-month-old albino daughter, was beaten to within an inch of her life. Terrified but helpless, she did not have the strength to resist when her lover of just two months, KgopoloMatsela, 31, tied a wire around her neck.

He forced her to climb a stepladder and hanged her from the roof of the room they shared.

Satisfied that Ngake was dead, Matsela then hanged himself.

KILLER: Kgopolo

It was the third and final life he took that day.

Meters away, in an adjacent bedroom within the farmhouse where the couple worked, lies the dead body of 25-year-old OaitseBugaloMorotsi.

The young farm hand, a distant cousin to Matsela, was tortured and killed by his older relative, hacked with a pickaxe and repeatedly beaten with an iron rod.

It appears Matsela’s deadly rage, fuelled by alcohol, was sparked by his paranoia that Morotsi and Ngake were sleeping together.

Attempting to make sense of the devastation, Ngake’s aunt, Toy Fulukanirevealed a fight ensued on Wednesday night when her niece and Matsela returned home from a bar.

“Theneighbours heard the quarrel. The following day our daughter was found hanging with a bruised left cheek like she was beaten with a hammer,” narrated Fulukani, sat huddled under the white tent as her family listen intently on.

NARRATING: Ngake’s aunt, Fulukani

“The crime scene was horrible.Gaone’s braids were all over the place, which shows they were removed when she fought for her life. My niece was a kind, respectful and quiet girl. She loved her daughter very much,” she continued, gesturing sadly at the toddler sat shyly on an elder’s lap.

Deeper in the village, less than 500m from the crime scene, and another white tent provides shade to a mourning family.

Their grief is mixed with shame and horror.

The dead killer’s mum, Gaborone Matselawas at a loss to explain her son’s actions.

“He was a quiet person, who kept to himself. You could never imagine he was capable of such evil. What happened is very painful,” said Gaborone, sniffing backtears as The Voice left the tormented lady to grieve in peace.

The family then summon a nervous-looking youth, 22-year-old TumeloKetshabile.

A close friend of Matsela’s, Ketshabilegives a startling insight into what transpired on the fateful day.

“Kgopolo (Matsela) called me in the morning to pump his engine. When I arrived, I found Bugalo (Morotsi) badly hurt. He could not sit up. His waist was broken and his neck bent.

STUNNED: Ketshabile found the dead bodies

“He could hardly move and weakly asked me for a glass of water. I got it for him but it failed to pass his throat. Gaone was sitting there with a bruised face. I took the engine and left,” narratedKetshabile, adding he did not think the situation was serious enough to warrant calling the police.

It is a decision that will haunt the young man forever.

“I went back to the farm at around 12 to return the engine. There were some kids playing in the yard and they said Kgopolo told them I should come back later because the boss was there.

“About four hours later I instructed the kids to go and check if the boss was still there. They came back screaming that they found people hanging,” whispered Ketshabile.

“Gaone and Kgopolo were hanging beside each other in the house in the room they shared. There was a stepladder next to them, I think he used it to makeGaone climb.

“I rushed to Babusi’s room where I found his body next to a pickaxe, pieces of planks and iron rods which Kgopolo must have used to kill him,” ended Ketshabile, his face pale with regret as he addsMatsela recently revealed his suspicion that Morotsi was in love with his girlfriend.

A short distance away isMorotsi’s family home.

There is no white tent here. Instead, mourners are gathered in the shade of an overgrown Mopane tree.

The murdered man’s father, Clement Julias has the same lost look in his eye as Matsela’s mum and Ngake’s aunt.

“I was called to the farm only to find my son dead. I feel so much pain and there is nothing I can do. I cannot put the blame on anyone because the people who know what happened are dead!” exclaimed Julias.

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Bar breaking suspects kept behind bars

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A gang of four habitual bar and house breaking suspects believed to have been terrorising Kweneng and Kgatleng areas, were this week remanded in custody by Molepolole Magistrate Raphael Ike.

The quartet of Mmoloki Motsiane (24), Lawrence Mogome (23), both from Bokaa ward Molepolole, Kebaabetswe Maragwane(27) from Lephepe village and 42-year-old David Legotsi of Borakalalo ward in Molepolole, between 21st and 23rd October, 2019 at Bokaa ward jointly broke into a house belonging to Onalenna Mogome and stole items including a set of 6 pots, blankets, TV set and others all amounting to P10 220-00.

On the first count, Maragwane who is cited in all the charges is said to have- together with Lerotsi broken into a bar at Moshaweng village and stole properties including a Rhino generator valued P6 500-00, black JVC television set valued P4 800-00 and various wines all amounting to P12 504-00.

Maragwane is also charged for breaking into Bula Bar at Shadishadi village and stealing a Deep freezer, Hunters Gold, Redds and other types of alcohol worth P11 028-00 on November 4th, 2019.

The suspects allegedly steal alcohol and sell it to other bar business owners.

They were found in possession of gloves and hard metal objects that they use for breaking doors and windows.

The prosecutor, Sergeant Bourman Batshid,i pleaded with the court to remand the accused in custody while they are still investigating the matters and looking for the other suspects who are still at large.

While all the accused persons pleaded not guilty and prayed to be released on bail, Magistrate Ike did not entertain their plea noting that the investigations were still at an infancy stage.

They will wait for 14 days more behind bars before next mention which has been scheduled for November 28th.

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NPF case postponed

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The civil hearing in the infamous National Petroleum Fund case has been postponed to the second week of December

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