BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
Following his criticism earlier this year of the government’s “collusion” to send him to the Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital in Lobatse, and perhaps sensing a second attempt on his freedom, Maun West Member of Parliament Kgosi Tawana Moremi this week made inquiries about conditions at the hospital.
Moremi asked the Minister of Health and Wellness to state the number and cause of deaths at Sbrana Mental Hospital during the last five years and measures in place to address the situation. Responding to the questions Minister of Health Alfred Madigele said the hospital had recorded a total of 12 deaths in the last five years.
He said of the 12 deaths, seven were of natural causes, three unnatural causes (two committed suicide by hanging and one from head injuries).
“The other two deaths are recent (both occurred in October 2018) and we are awaiting postmortem results,” Madigele said, adding “My ministry is in the process of installing CCTV cameras to monitor Psychiatric Wards. It has to be noted that the two suicide deaths from hanging occurred in the bathrooms, so we have since increased supervision of patients during bathing and removed shower rods, front doors and other objects like cloth-hangers from the bath rooms.”
Moremi’s inquiries follow a recent spell of attacks on the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government which he accuses of plotting to kill him and his family.
Earlier this year Moremi accused the government of conspiring to commit him to a mental hospital in order to regain his constituency.
Speaking during discussions on the Banking (Amendment) Bill presented by Minister of Finance Kenneth Mathambo, Moremi used the story to draw an analogy between his experiences, and the possible abuse of power by the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) when requesting information in respect of customer’s details or banking transactions.
“In Eastern Europe, especially Russia,” Moremi said, “they know how to deal with politicians, using the Mental Disorders Act to take care of their political opponents. When they conspire against you, you will find yourself in mental hospital where the only thing the doctor on duty ought to do is sign a reception order, certifying that you are not fit to hold office and consequently rendering your parliamentary seat vacant.”
He said he escaped mental hospital by a whisker, with calls coming in from very, very high places in government instructing the doctor on duty at the psychiatric hospital to sign the reception order with the aim of rendering his parliamentary seat vacant so a by-election could be held. Fortunately, Moremi said, he got wind of the hatched plot approximately two years before it occurred and when he was thrown in the back of a police van in 2017 he remembered the plan, orchestrated by the “Office of the President” under former president Ian Khama’s administration a couple of years earlier.