Monday, September 21, 2020

Players sexually abused during BISA Games

Two softball coaches are alleged to have abused and engaged in sexual activities with teenage girl players during the just ended 2018 Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) which were held in Gaborone this past week.

According to information coming out of the BISA girls’ camp that was accommodated at Ledumang School, the two coaches are alleged to have repeatedly engaged in sexual activities with since they arrived in Gaborone for the ball games.

The victims are reported to be from Palapye based Mabogo Community Junior School (CJSS)’s girls softball team. The alleged perpetrators are said to be non- teaching coaches who had been roped in to coach the girls during competitions.

It is however alleged that once in Gaborone, the men found comfort in the girl’s undies and blankets. They caressed and penetrated girls according to desire and preference. The sexual activity is said to have unfolded right before the eyes of the many young girls sleeping in that same classroom.

According to one teacher, also BISA official who preferred anonymity, other children fearfully and silently watched as the men grunted as they pleasured themselves with their fellow players.

Disgusted by the sexual acts, one child sleeping in that classroom is said to have told all when her parents back home called to check up on her.

The child is said to have insisted on her parents to bring her back home from the tournament as she was fed up and uncomfortable to sleep in that classroom.

“The shocked and obviously upset parent then made contact with the school authorities demanding answers and that is how the men’s little party was spoilt,” said the concerned teacher.

The teacher also revealed that used condoms were found in that classroom this past Sunday morning.

It is said that when questioned, the two men, reportedly former softball players in their thirties denied any sexual relations with the girls.

According to them, they only watched harmless videos with the girls from their mobile phones on the night of the alleged incident. It however still remains a mystery why the two men found it harmless to sneak under the girls’ beds to watch videos.

Meanwhile a seemingly freaked out Mabogo student showed this reporter the classroom that the sexual acts took place. The teenage girl said it seemed the sex trysts were pre-planned ahead of the trip.

According to her, some softball girls had initially told them that they needed a separate classroom for they needed ‘space’ when they arrived in Gaborone.

In addition, it is alleged that some girls mysteriously went missing from their sleeping spots all night long and only returned around 2am on Sunday morning.

Reached for comment, Mabogo CJSS School headmaster Polite Mabalane said he is still waiting for an official and formal report from the school sports master who was said to still be in Gaborone.

He said the sports master had hinted to him there is an “issue” which he (the headmaster) was yet to learn formally what it was.

Quizzed if he knew of any non- teaching gentlemen who are alleged to have travelled with the softball team, Mabalane said, “I only know of one gentleman who is on attachment at our school, he has been assisting the team and he travelled with the rest of the team.”

Mabalane further said that his school has never recorded such cases before and if the allegations are anything to go by, he was dumbfounded.

The BISA Zonal Organiser North Central Ontiretse Otukile confirmed that the allegations have been making rounds and he is also aware of such however he was not in position to divulge further details.

“I am yet to hear from Mabogo School and those who were in charge of the children, at the moment I do not have any clear details about the incident,” Otukile said. He noted that they take child protection seriously and always strive to sensitising coaches about such issues.

The incident comes at the backdrop of the just ended International Working Group (IWG) of women in Sports held in Gaborone. At the conference, it was discussed that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) forbids coach- athlete relationships as it disturb performance.

The alleged incident have sparked concern among the local sports fraternity, with some sports administrators calling for strict punishment to be meted against any administrator found to be immersed in sexual activities with girl players.

“Coaches who do that must be taken through the disciplinary procedure and if found guilty, they must be removed from coaching or even permanently be removed from the sport,” said Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president Tshepo Bathai this week.

Bathai said at BOKA, they have a guiding code of conduct for coaches and a Women’s commission to assist them on policy issues regarding gender and equality.

As for Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) Mothokonedi Thabano, such coaches should be suspended indefinitely from any sport code. He said it is a shame that people who are supposed to be mentors end up sexually abusing players.

Attempts to get hold of Broad Hurst Police Station Commander to find out if the matter was reported under defilement or not as the girls are underage proved futile as he was said to be held up in meetings.

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