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Real talk with ten-days

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Down memory lane with the original ‘Moiplek’ shebeen queen

Mention the name Ten-Days anywhere in the second city and, more often than not, there’s an instant and unmistakable recognition.

It is a name countless Francistowners have come to know in the last seven decades, a brand that many who hold plum posts in air-conditioned offices refer to fondly.

An immensely popular figure in Francistown, Tendani Mathape is revered in Bluetown, the rundown location she has called home for much of her life.

Born 81 years ago, the sprightly grandmother is as fit as a fiddle, her strikingly youthful smile only betrayed by her closely cropped grey hair.

In 1953, as a 14-year-old Mathape started her primary education at African School in Francistown.

It was here as an energetic teenager that she proved her athletic prowess, excelling at both ball sports and track events.

Sadly, back then there was little chance of forging a living through sport and her talent eventually fizzled away.

One thing that stuck, however, was her childhood nickname.

“There was a teacher from South Africa, Mr Mazabathi who used to call me Ten Days, instead of Tendani. This name stuck to me like glue even after I completed school. The Zezurus in the area started calling me Mma-Ten-Days, now everyone calls me that,” she explains, her bright smile revealing an impressive set of white teeth.

In an exclusive interview with The Voice, Mathape notes that life in the 60s and 70s was not easy.

“Employment opportunities were limited. Most families survived through the sale of traditional beer. It was a source of income for almost everyone who could not find employment in the mines.”

Although it was illegal at the time, soon after finishing school Mathape started brewing and selling beer. She quickly established herself as a brewer of note, becoming an instant hit with customers.

“Remember that at the time, natives were not allowed to trade in alcohol. The business of selling beer was a reserve for white people who had opened a big beer hall in Sotoma, which is called Area W today. So I had a nicely decorated huge pot that I used to hide the brew from the troublesome police officers,” she says, laughing proudly at the memory.

The forced relocation of Sotoma residents by Witwatersrand Native Labour (WENELA) saw Mathape and her family resettling at Moiplek (present day Bluetown).

“The name changed to Bluetown as the population increased, but it used to be simply Moiplek. There were about four homesteads when we relocated here,” remembers Mathape, pausing to catch her breath before adding with a frustrated sigh, “Sadly I still don’t know what the name Bluetown means!”

The respected elder further told The Voice brewers had ‘a cat and mouse’ relationship with the police.

However, that changed with the intervention of Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) founder, Phillip Matante.

“We were now free to sell home-brewed alcohol,” she says, her eyes lighting up with nostalgia.

But as her business grew, the lure of profit and the ever-demanding customers forced Mathape to introduce western beer to her stock, which was still against the law.

Her reputation grew in the neighbourhood as imbibers got wind of a shebeen with a touch of the west.

So, just how did Mma-Ten Days manage to sell beer illegally for so many years without attracting the wrath of the law? Her answer is as honest as it is simple.

“The police were also my customers. Another advantage was my shebeen was very neat and I did not play loud music. Police officers who came here respected that and never troubled me. I ran a decent drinking place,” muses Mathape, abruptly switching from the past to the present and encouraging her old customers to get their drinks from legally established bars and bottle stores as she no longer trades in alcohol.

“Some people still come here to buy alcohol but I always turn them away. Some still don’t believe me and insist on opening the refrigerator which I gladly oblige,” she says amid fits of laughter.

“I’ve long passed that phase. I’m now a staunch member of PHD (Prophetic Healing and Deliverance) Ministries,” she concludes, proudly showing off her ‘miracle’ bracelets.

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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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