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Home » Volume 55 Issue 4- February-March 2018 » Mokanoki » Article Details

Botshabelo- The Dark Side of Selibe Phikwe

Just across the railway line that runs from Gaborone to Francistown through the copper mining town of Selebi Phikwe, the small location of Botshabelo comes into full view.

Few place names in Botswana are infamously burdened with history and Botshabelo, fondly known as Tshabis is no exception. And their names tell a story too.

Mogoditshane, fondly known as Mogadishu was named after the 1992 peacekeeping mission the Botswana Defence Force undertook at the trouble-torn Somali capital city then.

Troops were drawn from the BDF camp in Mogoditshane and they were allegedly met with hostile reception in Somalia.

Since then Mogoditshane adopted the name largely due to its rigorous street life and being host to the BDF camp.  
Botshabelo embodies this identity.

When you first reach the place from the leafy suburbs of Phase 1, there’s that cheerful energy you immediately see on the streets, a true reflection of “a place of safe abode”, as its name suggests.

Everyone looks happy. Word has it that the place was named Botshabelo by the founding President Sir Seretse Khama.

He held a kgotla meeting at the famous Morula tree which still stands at the main kgotla. Names were suggested to name the location but Seretse Khama’s choice stood tall.

A stone throw from the railway line lies Superintendent Gothusamang Basupi’s office, located in a carefully furnished room at the Botshabelo Police Station.

When the Kutlwano team knocked on her door unannounced she wore a grim face. She had just received a phone call.

A young man in his mid-thirties was reported to have killed his girlfriend the previous night.

“We are grappling with such gruesome incidents involving young people every day,” she quips.
Supt. Basupi fingers the selling of illegal brew to be the centre of the rot. Many young people growing up in high density areas are drawn to illicit behaviour at an early age.

According to Supt. Basupi the ongoing crackdown on illicit liquor outlets has unearthed other criminal activities.

Though she is not privy to this place, there is a house called Orapa House, where allegations of mischief are reported daily.

It is named after the iconic and former diamond sorting centre in Gaborone.

In Boseja the brewing of illegal concoctions is a common sight. Supt. Basupi’s policing area covers all the four areas of Botshabelo east, north, central and Boseja.

Her mandate extends to places outside Selebi Phikwe such as Mogapi, Sefhophe, Tshokwe and the surrounding areas.

She attributes disturbing petty crime offences to young people who always roam the streets of Botshabelo even in the wee hours.

“We try to intervene in averting criminal offences by engaging cluster policing.

We also call the business communities and plead with them to adhere to normal trading hours”.

At the Botshabelo kgotla the presence of Olebogeng Mojuta has created a feeling of personal security amongst the residents here. Mma Mojuta, as the court president is affectionately known in Botshabelo and even beyond is a disciplinarian.

She has gained tremendous prestige amongst her subject because of her ability not to spare the rod.

The Botshabelo Court president is a woman of outstanding leadership qualities. Botshabelo location had been punctuated with incessant notoriety but so steadfast had she been that she overcame all the disorder and led her subject with supreme authority.

“Nnyaa mme malatsi ano Botshabelo o boetse mo sethong ebile o kgona go tswa ko Goo Rra Lenyetse o tsamaela ntheng ya tase.

Re tshwanetse ra dumalana gore ke motse Setswana bothoka tsebe bo dirwa ke go ne go hudugela mono ga batho ba le bantsi,” she says.

Mma Mojuta arrived in Selibe Phikwe at Botshabelo kgotla in 1981 working under the late Kehaeng Kedikilwe, father to former vice president Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

She actually started as a Deputy Court President at the same kgotla that she officially opened, the Kagiso kgotla.

She had been court President at Ikageleng before she finally settled at Botshabelo in 2003 a post she held up to date.

Mma Mojuta is spear heading a campaign to strip Botshabelo of its dark past.

Just two days before the Kutlwano team descended on her kgotla she had met Bishop Sekai Jakoba of the venerated Eloyi Christian Church.

The mission was to exorcise the evil deeds bedeviling her small community.

“Bishopo o buile gore lentswe le dule gore dipolaano, borukutlhi di tlaya mogoletsa mo motseng wa rona. Mme tota go supa ha rre yo ele monna wa thapelo, malatsinyana morago ga se ke ha re begelwa kgetsi ya polao le borukutlhi jwa banana jo bo ileng magoletsa,” she adds.

With the church’s perceived gift in drawing out the malevolent spirits it is Mma Mojuta’s hope that Botshabelo like an ageing snake will shed its old skin.

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