‘Morama is a girl’
5/31/2006 5:27:22 PM (GMT +2)
FRANCISTOWN, BOTSWANA: As the nation reels from shocking allegations suggesting that the national middle distance runner, Tshotlego Morama, could be a male, her former teachers and a former schoolmate are steadfast that she is a female.
Ketaata Ngakane (18) dismissed reports that Morama, her former schoolmate at Letlhakane Senior Secondary School (LSSS) - from 2004 to 2005, is a male saying they used to bath together at the hostels and she never saw anything different. “She is a girl and we used to bath with her at the Letlhakane Senior Secondary School hostels. I have no doubt that she is a girl,” she told Mmegi yesterday. She dismissed allegations that her former schoolmate has impregnated another young woman. “Ke mosetsana motho yole, le fa go ntse gotwe dilo - She is a girl and that’s it,” she pronounced unequivocally. She stressed: “In the two years that we spent together at senior school, I don’t have any doubt about her gender as she openly played with other girls at the hostels and it was clear that she is a girl. Those people must think again”, Ngakane insisted. Morama’s primary school head teacher at Rethatoleng in Letlhakane, Donald Moses Nkala, could not believe his ears when he heard news that she (Morama) has fathered a child. “I have heard the news. I am still shocked. I have known her to be a girl and not a boy. What could have rendered her a man to the extent of impregnating a girl,” said the shocked Nkala. Morama grew up under Nkala’s guidance as a netballer and a middle distance runner. “In Letlhakane, we are confused about the news about this athletics goddess that we hold in high esteem and we wonder where these things are coming from, especially at this time,” says Nkala. As a former head teacher who encouraged Morama to exploit her potential in athletics, Nkala maintains that her body structure and everything else does not in anyway suggest that she could be a man. Even her former athletics coach at LSSS, Joseph Morebodi expressed similar sentiments as Ngakane and Nkala. “Despite this circulating rumour about Morama being a father to a baby girl whose mother reportedly originates from Tonota, I can’t believe it,” said Morebodi. He indicated that Morama is a girl who has shared hostels and showers with her schoolmates, teachers and others. “She wears sporty clothing as a sportsperson. She will never expose her legs like most women do,” Morebodi swears. He strongly believes that some people are out to destroy Morama. “I literally talked to her at the time when these rumours were at their high and she maintained that she was a woman. She, however, seemed disturbed by the issue so much.” Even the Letlhakane chief, Onkabetse Modirwagale was shocked at the news when contacted by Mmegi on the allegations on Monday. “I have known her to be a girl and I don’t think anything has changed”. Botswana Amateur Athle-tics Association (BAAA) spokesman, Ipolokeng Ra-matshaba, told Mmegi on Monday that in so far as he was concerned, Morama is a woman. “She is competing in the BAAA activities as a woman. She started with us while a student at Letlhakane Secondary about five years ago. The middle distance runner is clearly a woman,” stressed Ramatshaba. Morama is currently a national record holder of the 800 metres following her excellent performance in Athens at the paralympics. Meanwhile, the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) attorney, Bernard Bolele, yesterday issued a press statement expre-ssing concern about the timing of a story that was published by The Gazette newspaper. "We consider it unethical for the newspaper to interview the athlete during the period when she is in unstable state of mind, going through the process of counselling. “By the newspaper’s own admission, the athlete is undergoing counselling. She is unable to defend herself in a fair and balanced manner,” reads the press statement in part. Bolele also warned that the allegations made about Morama have the potential to destroy her entire life, long after the interview is forgotten. Pressed for further comment, Bolele said yesterday that he was not aware of what was going on in the Morama issue. “Truly speaking, I don’t know anything relating to this issue,” he said. When asked about what will happen to the image of BNSC as an organisation if it is true that Morama is indeed a boy: “I am busy consulting clients here and I fear I may be quoted out of context. I prefer to reser-ve my comment on the iss-ue for now”. Like Bolele, the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Moeng Pheto, under whose ministry the Department of Sports and Recreation falls, said he was dismayed at the reports. “I am devastated. Why are you people doing this to this young girl who has the world at her feet? Are you trying to destroy her,Sports Council or this country? “I understand that you people in the press have scoops and breaking stories but I thought you need to exercise some caution and be sensitive. What you have done to this girl is disheartening,” Pheto said. Pheto said he and BNSC are responsible and are doing everything to ensure that everything is done professionally. " We will give you the facts. We will not hide anything from you. The public needs to know what is the truth and we will do that very soon once we have done all the consultations with the right people,” the minister said. Asked whether it was true that Tshotlego had impregnated a girl, the minister said they would give the facts to the public very soon and not perceptions.
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