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Water is coming!

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DRY DELTA SET FOR WET WINTER

It is around 9:00 in the morning. Despite the early hour, the unforgiving sun beats down fiercely on the Daunara wilderness.

The heat forces a large number of polers to seek shelter under the leafy tress that line the riverside’s muddy banks.

Meanwhile a group of European tourists, basking in the sun’s golden rays, set off in canoes, expertly steered across the Gomoti River by their guides.

The river is one of the few to survive the drought that has parched much of Ngamiland District in the last two years. The water still flows, but at a much lower level than normal.

Over 600 polers gather by this river every morning, desperately hoping to win tenders to take tourists on boat trips, sometimes overnight into camps.

“We are gathered here from different villages because other rivers have dried up. So it is survival by grace,” states Meshack Keogotsitse, a rugged youth with a muscly physique toned from hours spent ferrying tourists over water.

EXPERT POLER: Keogotsitse

Together with over 100 other polers, Keogotsitse relocated from Boro River last year after the river ran dry.

“This is our bread and butter. We depend on the river to give us food and clothes. We have families to support!”

His friend/competition, Keaoleboga Mosweu, reveals that although they no longer make as much as they used to due to the recent influx of polers, there is still a living to be made.

“If you are smart, you can make good money from this business. It pays well, but it needs patience. I am grateful that at the end of every week, I can buy food, groceries and other necessities for my family,” says Mosweu, shielding his eyes as the sun bursts out from behind a cloud.

Another to make the switch from Boro to Daunara is Obusitswe Ntebang, one of a number of female polers.

Like her male counterparts, Ntebang is well aware of the deadly dangers that lurk below the river. Yet she has no option but to peddle her canoe into the hippo and crocodile infested waters.

“I have to do it to survive. It’s that or starve,” she says simply.

“Most of us had been operating from Boro River but we moved here last year after the river dried up. In this business, we are equals, there is no men or women, we are just polers,” she adds with a smile.

Gazing at the partly cloudy sky, Ntebang is hopeful the rains will return this year, enabling her to go back to Boro to rejoin her family and work closer to home.

It seems her hope is not without merit.

Floods from the Angolan Highlands have started feeding the Okavango Delta from Mohembo River.

According to the Regional Manager of Water and Sanitation in Maun, Kutlo Kgobero, water is expected to reach the Delta by winter.

“We are hopeful that Thamalakane River and others will get water this year. Already in Namibia’s Rundo River, the water levels have risen and that is the same water that is flowing into Botswana. Water levels at Mohembo are steadily going up,” revealed Kgobero, explaining that the Okavango Delta gets its water from Cuito River, which runs from Angola’s Highlands through Namibia and into the Mohembo channel.

Thousands of families from Boro, Daraxau, Morutsa, Xaxaba, Ditshiping, Xutau in Botswana depend on this water.

When it does not come, the consequences are far-reaching. Cattle die of thirst, humans go hungry and polers are dispersed.

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Sangomas’ fatal battle

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Trio implicated in rival’s fiery death

Three traditional doctors in Serowe will have their spiritual powers put to the test as they race against time to escape a possible death penalty for the gruesome murder of a rival medicine man on 19th February.

The trio of Keitumetse Dudu Seakane, 34, Phaphane Jack, 27, and Gladys Dintwa, 52, is accused of burning Mhanje Raplanka alive at his home in Itsokwane Farms, just a few kilometers from Moiyabana.

The three sangomas, who were granted bail by Serowe Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 19th March, appeared again for mention this Monday.

Speaking to The Voice, No. 2 District Officer Commanding, Paul Oketsang, confirmed the trio has been charged with the 67-year-old Raplanka’s murder.

However, the top cop would not go into detail as the matter is sensitive and still under investigation.

In an exclusive, emotional interview with this publication, a family spokesperson revealed they received a call at midnight on February 19th from concerned neighbours at the usually quite lands.

“They said people were killing our father and we should rush as quickly as possible to fetch him as he needed medical attention,” narrated the source, who pleaded to remain anonymous as he still has to give evidence in court.

The spokesperson is convinced the mastermind behind the cold-blooded murder was Gladys, the deceased’s niece.

“From what we learnt after the old man’s death, Gladys, who’s a traditional doctor, had once asked her uncle to pass on his shrine to her, a request he flatly rejected.”

According to the source, the holy shrine in the middle of the elderly man’s farm has long been a source of envy for Gladys, who desperately needed it to fortify herself.

Narrating his version of events from the fateful night, the family member claimed the trio drove together in a Honda Fit owned by Jack, parking close to the corrugated mud hut where an unsuspecting Raplanka lay sleeping.

“Gladys remained behind in the car, while Keitumetse and Phaphane proceeded to the house. They took a bath at the gate before entering the yard,” The Voice was told.

Suspects

The two sangomas allegedly doused the house in petrol before setting it on fire.

“From what we heard, the old man somehow managed to break through the door before he was completely consumed by fire. But they knocked him down with a log and poured more petrol on his burning body,” said the source, who remained remarkably calm considering his gory narrative.

Convinced Raplanka was dead, the two men reportedly returned to the car and fled the scene.

“Miraculously, he managed to extinguish the fire and staggered to the next yard, about a kilometre away, where he narrated his ordeal and named his attackers. It was the neighbours who alerted us and the police,” continued the family insider.

According to the source, a police van arrived an hour later to pick the badly burnt old man, who unfortunately died on the way to the hospital, a few kilometers from Moiyabana.

The suspects were arrested around noon the next day.

They are due back in court for mention on 2nd June.

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Botswana confirms four (4) cases of Covid-19

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  1. As noted yesterday Botswana has confirmed 3 cases of Covid-19. We now report a fourth Covid-19 case, this case is of a 79 old lady from Ramotswa who unfortunately demised on the 25th March, 2020 and was buried over the weekend on the 28th March 2020. She had travelled to Motswedi, South Africa on the 14 March 2020 and returned the following day on the 15th March 2020.

She started showing symptoms on the 21 March 2020 and later developed fever. It was noted that she had a significant other, comorbidities. On return from Motswedi she was kept on home quarantine from where she was brought to Bamalete Lutheran Hospital.

She was seen in Accident and Emergency and put under mandatory quarantine where she died on the 25 March 2020, and burial conducted with the necessary precautions of someone suspected to have highly an infectious disease.

Contact tracing is currently underway and so far 14 have been identified, quarantined and tested for Covid-19. Results are awaited.
Regarding the previous 3 cases we would like the Nation to note the following:

  1. The first case is a 47-year-old male, Motswana who came from Basingstoke, travelled to the United Kingdom on the 29th February 2020 and returned on the 21st March 2020. At the time of arrival the patient was asymptomatic.

The patient developed a fever (>38°C), coughing and running shortness of breath, the patient was swabbed on the 28th March 2020. The patient was tested at the National Health Laboratory (NHL) and also referred to National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa.

  1. The second case is a 40-year-old female Motswana who travelled with her husband to Thailand on the 10th March 2020 and returned to Botswana on 20th March 2020 through Dubai, and through OR Tambo and SSKI.

The lady developed sore throat, was coughing and had a headache.

She was swabbed on the 27th March 2020. The patient was tested at the National Health Laboratory (NHL) and also referred to National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa.

  1. The third case is a 42-year-old male Motswana who travelled with his wife to Thailand on the 10th March 2020 and returned to Botswana on 20th March 2020 through Dubai, and through OR Tambo and SSKI.

The male was coughing with a temperature of 37.8°C. He was swabbed on the 27th March 2020. The patient was tested at the National Health Laboratory (NHL) and also referred to National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa.

As we face this challenge I call upon you my Countryman to stand together in unity as we fight this scourge. We together shall prevail. We have done this before and we shall do it again.

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