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SDA factional wars reach High Court

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The High Court has ordered warring factions of the Seventh Day Adventist Church to go back to the drawing table to discuss their differences and settle for the middle ground.

This came after the church withdrew an urgent application it brought against three of its pastors – Dr Boitirelo Kabo, Phemelo Seboka, and Othibetse Nelson Simankane.

In their papers, the church accuses the pastors of unlawfully extending their term in office at a conference held from November 25-27th which decision was later reversed by the church on December 4th.

“The respondents are hereby interdicted and restrained from executing any duties purportedly bestowed on them on the 25th and 27th November 2019 because they are not supposed to be in these positions by the reason of the fact that they were not duly and lawfully elected,” the church papers read in part.

Dr Kenaope Kenaope who is the president of the Botswana Union Executive Committee (BUC), a governing body of the SDA said that in 2018 the church engaged the services of Mazars Forensics to conduct audit of the South Botswana Conference an organ of the church.

The audit was conducted for the period of January 1, 2015 to December 2016.

“On the 25th June 2019, at the applicants Special Executive Committee Meeting, it was stated that the report revealed gross negligence and control lapses by the SBC Administration and Treasury Department,” said DrKenaope.

The meeting resolved to report the matter to the police who then responded that they would collect SBC accounting files but there was resistance from the respondents.

“On account of refusal by respondents to provide the necessary documentation, the Botswana Police Service approached the Magistrates Court seeking an order compelling the SBC to comply accordingly.

In response to the court order, the SBC instituted proceedings against Botswana Police Service to stay the decision of the Magistrates Court pending its review.

The basis of such application is at this point still not understood by the applicant,” Dr Kenaope said in the papers.

Dr Kenaope said that the SBC proceeded to hold meetings in November 2019 where they were elected to another term in office despite legal action instituted by the church.

The applicant as the mother body governing the SBC considered the outcome of this November 2019 Session as illegal and contrary to the SBC constitution and bylaws.

It was raised that the respondents had passed an unconstitutional decision to self-appoint themselves and extend their term in office.

However, in their replying affidavits, the pastors denied any wrongdoing. They further denied that the BUC is the highest decision making body of the church saying its mandate is to give direction and to ensure that the church’s standards are complied with.

“The applicant ought to have pointed out by way of clear averments why it thinks or believes it possesses highest decision-making powers,” they said.

The pastors say that the country is divided into two – South Botswana Conference and North Botswana Conference to ensure that they run the SDA Church in conformity with the ideals and beliefs of the church. They argue that the BUC is a separate entity.

The pastors further argue that BUC had no competence or jurisdiction to engage Mazars auditors and that the draft report and final report have not been presented to them or before the court.

“We as the executive committee of the SBC have always called upon the BUC to furnish a report of the audit being referred to and the BUC has consistently failed to produce same”.

The pastors argued that the SBC is an autonomous body with sufficient internal control and investigation capacity.

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Police discourage withdrawal of GBV cases

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Botswana Police Service has adopted a policy that discourages withdrawal of Gender Based Violence (GBV) related cases after they have been reported.

 Raising concern during the GBV Pitso ya Borre campaign official launch on Valentine’s Day held at Molepolole bus rank, Commissioner of Police Keabetswe Makgophe, said it seemed the police are now being used by some women who report cases only to withdraw them at a later stage.

 He said suspects get incarcerated and later on they face challenges of some intending to sue them for that, also that they have reports of victims being murdered following withdrawal of cases which the public end up blaming them.

“The choice of venue for this launch was mostly influenced by the fact that in the recent past Kweneng District experienced a surge of GBV related cases, mostly murder, rape and assault. The frequency at which murder cases were reported was alarming and brought fear to the residents and shocked the entire country,” said Makgophe at the well attended event.

According to the national statistics on GBV crimes, there were 1208 recorded cases of defilement in 2019 compared to 769 in 2018; indicating a 57 percent increase which is 439.

In her keynote address, the First Lady Neo Jane Masisi, appealed to the chiefs, churches, health practitioners, civil society organisations and the public to help GBV committees and the police in fighting GBV.

She encouraged the police to continue spreading the message across the country

Masisi also promised to continue with her mission in supporting GBV campaigns and also to seek assistance from outside the country.

 Pitso ya Borre campaign kick-started on February 8th, 2020 with educational campaigns targeting churches, schools, cattle posts, various organisations and wider male population.

The BPS took advantage of the mood of the day and distributed the roses to the men to present to their loved ones.

Held under the theme ‘Ending Gender Based Violence Starts With Me # emisakgokgontsho,’ the attendees included Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Thomas Kagiso Mmusi and other officials.   

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Son of BDP women’s wing SG accused of forging DIS boss signature

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Yes I was detained and questioned- Maruapula

A man rumoured to be romantically linked to the reigning Miss Botswana, Oweditse Phirinyane was this week allegedly nabbed and questioned for impersonating a Directorate Of Intelligence Services (DIS) agent.

The suspect, Mompati Maruapula is the son of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) women’s wing secretary General, Neo Maruapula.

He reportedly attracted law enforcement officers’s attention by uttering a false document, complete with a forged signature of the Director General of the DIS Peter Magosi as ‘proof” that he was employee of the DIS when he was not.

He allegedly produced the fake proof of employment in an attempt to fraudulently purchase a BMW vehicle limited addition at one of the car dealers in Gaborone, an eyewitness has claimed.

“The car dealership phoned the DIS to confirm and that is when law enforcement agencies were alerted and a sting operation was set in motion to nab him,” the source further narrated.

He was then told to come back at 2Pm for the car only for him to find security agents waiting to catch him.

Asked to comment on the incident Maruapula explained that he was not charged but simply questioned.

“They (Police) said they would get back to me. I have not yet been charged with any crime. I was briefly detained and released yes. It is true,” he said in a brief interview.

The DIS when quizzed about the matter referred The Voice to The Botswana Police.

“I cannot confirm nor deny your questions. Please liase with the Police for a full brief,” DISS spokesperson Edward Robert said.

Miss Botswana also refused to comment saying she would like to keep her private life private and quickly handed the phone to the recently divorced Maruapula who was in her company at the time.

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Montshiwa’s murder trial yet to start

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Trial date for the late Fairground Holdings Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Montshiwa’s murder case has been postponed as Judge Michael Mothobi is on sick leave.

The main suspect in this matter attorney David Modise and his co-accused- a traditional doctor Tumelo Tshukudu, today appeared at the Gaborone High Court for mention and confirmation of trial dates.

The 35-year-old lawyer is linked to the death of his client, Montshiwa, and he is facing another charge of stealing by agent.

He is currently out on bail awaiting trial.

Montshiwa was shot and killed on the 18th of October, 2015 at his house in Block 6 Gaborone.

It is said that Modise was the last person to communicate with Montshiwa just minutes before the CEO’s fatal shooting.

Police investigations revealed that between June 30 and October 17, 2015, Modise withdrew about P245 000 from Montshiwa’s Trust account.

The money according to the Investigating Officer Detective Senior Superintendent Sergeant Marapo, was entrusted to Modise for the purchase of a plot for Montshiwa in Mogoditshane.

It is alleged that when Montshiwa realised that the money was missing from the Trust account, he communicated with Modise demanding to see him at his house on the night he was killed.

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