Chickening out

Kabelo Dipholo
NOT HAPPY: Thabo Yobe

BDP parliamentary hopeful accused of misappropriating P100 000 YDF for a disabled person’s poultry business

“All I want is for that man to return my chickens.”

“I no longer trust him.” These words were uttered by Thabo Yobe, a 26-year-old resident of Monarch West in Francistown.

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Born with cerebral palsy, Yobe walks with the aid of a walking stick.

The man on the receiving end of his fury is Samuel Kealotswe, the Managing Director of Grembo Security, a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful for the Francistown West Constituency.

At the heart of the fierce battle that has turned the paraplegic against his mentor is the P99,156.70 Youth Development Fund (YDF) grant that Yobe received during the 2022/23 financial year to operate a broiler business.

The sole shareholder of Yobe Poultry Propriety Limited said Kealotswe assisted him to open a business account at Stanbic Bank and, after he was funded, he became his business mentor.

“He was in charge of everything, including the day to day running of the business,” he told The Voice in an exclusive interview.

In his own words, things ran smoothly for at least six months.

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He was getting his P2 000 monthly stipend from the Ministry of Youth, which as per the advice of his mentor he willingly shared with other poultry workers.

With sales increasing everyday, and payments of around P6 000 coming in every month, Yobe was already fantasising about a lavish life.

“I was convinced I was soon going to build myself a nice bachelor pad,” shaking his head in disbelief.

Records and estimates shown to this publication show that the poultry has made well over P110 000 since the young man was funded, the money he claims Kealotswe has failed to account for.

“I have nothing. No place to sleep, no clothes, not even a bed,” but my business, according to my calculations and the documents, has generated well over P100 000,” he said.

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Yobe said he became suspicious when he no longer received SMS notifications on his phone for transactions on his Stanbic account.

“I used to see everything, and I’d call to inquire about some transactions, and Kealotswe would brief me,” he said.

Yobe further said his Stanbic account was closed without his knowledge, and was advised to open a new one at Absa by Kealotswe.

“It is here that the problem started. He’s the signatory, and I’m not. So, I’m totally in the dark about what’s going on. He has taken full control of my business and has pushed me aside,” claimed Yobe.

Yobe said he’s of the view that his money was used for personal gains by people who were supposed to protect him as a disabled and vulnerable member of society.

“I’ve not received a salary from my project since September 2023. In December, he gave me P100, and on January 1st, he gave me P450 sent to my Orange Money,” revealed Yobe.

His mother, Jane Yobe, also supported her son’s claim and called out Kealotswe to hand back Yobe’s business.

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“He isolated him from us and alienated him from people who used to be close to him,” charged a visibly worried mother.

A former Social Media Marketing Officer for the poultry business, Lucky Doctor, who’s now helping Thabo to gain control of his business, told The Voice that Kealotswe has totally failed to account for all sales made since last year October.

“There has been no deposits in the new account. In fact, all the cash is deposited into Kealotswe’s Orange Money account,” revealed Doctor.

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“There’re just too many irregularities. One such is the Hisense refrigerator worth over P8 000, which bears Kealotswe’s names instead of the business or Yobe,” he said.

“As things stand, this double door refrigerator belongs to Kealotswe, and he has a receipt to prove it,” Doctor said.

Doctor said with permission from Yobe’s parents, he has written to the Office of the President to report the matter, while they are still waiting for MYSC to conclude their investigations.

Kealotswe has however dismissed the accusations as a smear campaign sponsored by his political opponents.

In a candid interview with The Voice on Wednesday afternoon Kealotswe said he’s being persecuted for caring too much.

“I was trying to help a vulnerable member of the society, and got more than I bargained for. I did everything for him, and even was willing to build him a house before the recent sponsored attacks,” fired Kealotswe.

He said people are not aware of the mortality rate and other extra costs they incurred in the business.

“At some point we lost 203 chickens from a batch of 500. This is a huge loss,” he said.

Kealotswe said they also lost many chickens to the heat wave, and at some point losing 109 in one afternoon.

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He said some of the deaths could not be explained as all the recommended vaccines did not work.

“We later realised that a black mamba living in the poultry house was behind this acute mortality rate,” Kealotswe told The Voice, revealing that the poultry workers did kill the trespassing serpent.

“We made a lot of mistakes, because we were all learning. Our handling and storage was not up to scratch and we incurred losses as as result. My focus now is to ensure the business is on its feet before I hand it back to MYSC,” he said.

Kealotswe said at the moment he’s in the process of handing over the project back to MYSC.

“The process has begun. I’ll leave the business with stock, so that whoever takes over can continue where I left off,” he said.

“I feel sorry for Thabo, he allowed himself to be used by politicians. Not a single one of them has ever tried to help him. I tried the poultgry business for him in 2021 but we were rejected, and in 2022 we were funded. How then do I turn around and embezzle funds?” asked Kealotswe.

Kealotswe will square off with Raoboy Mpuang in the BDP Primary elections, for a chance to unseat Ignatius Moswaane.

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