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Community-based facilitator testifies in Gamcotrap officials’ case

May 4, 2012, 12:52 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Malick Baldeh, a community-based facilitator in the Upper River Region, yesterday testified in the case involving Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director of Gamcotrap and Amie Bojang-Sissoho, programme coordinator of the same organization, at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

The two women’s rights activists, it was alleged, sometime in 2009, in Banjul and diverse places in The Gambia, jointly stole 30,000 Euros being money provided by the YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain.

Designated as defence witness three, Baldeh told the court that he had being working with Gamcotrap for 26 years now as a community-based facilitator in Basse, Upper River Region.

He added that as a community facilitator he was having the opportunity to meet with many women leaders and women circumcisers including some alkalolu during the celebrations of the dropping of the knife.

He said he met Suczi during the celebration, and also met one Bekonyi at Konia, who came with one white-man from Wellingara in Senegal to witness the celebration.

DW3 further added that the purpose of Bekonyi bring the white man was for him to see how they taught in the classroom.

Baldeh added that Bekonyi then asked him the benefits they would get from Gamcotrap, and he explained to him the benefits.

He added that during the celebration, each of the women circumcisers received D3,000 as part of the Alternative Employment Opportunity (AEO) scheme, noting that Gamcotrap also provided the cost of tailoring and the fuel for the distribution of ashobis to different residents, amounting to D5,000, as the part of the preparation towards the ‘dropping of the Knife.’

He added that during this celebration, they discussed with them that the money that each circumciser thumb-printed for was in exchange for dropping of the knife, commonly called “MUTABULLYDOKO”.

He added that these women circumcisers then agreed that they would drop their knives.

When asked who were the people who benefited from the ashobis within the community level, he said the alkalulo, women leaders and the circumcisers of the area.

He said that Gamcotrap had been given out AEO funds before Yollocamabi Solidaradid had contracted with Gamcotrap.

Under cross-examination, the witness said he came to the court to speak the truth.

He added that they had given AEO funds for the past five years to women leaders.

However, the prosecutor put it to him that he was not telling the court the truth, as this was the first time Gamcotrap has given out AEO funds to the women leaders.

The prosecutor further put it to him that some women circumcisers testified that they received only D2, 000 instead of D3, 000, but the witness maintained that they all received the same amount.

When it was further put to DW3 that this was done behind closed doors with the cashier including Amie Bojang-Sissoho, programme coordinator, the witness denied that, saying it was done in an open place.

The case was then adjourned till 18 May 2012, for hearing to continue.