SELEBI-PHIKWE: "The meals you eat everyday are provided by the small house. If I stop the extra-marital affair then you assume your role as a man and provide for me and the children."
This is a common statement from women that counsellors, police and dikgosi deal with almost everyday to save marriages of ex-BCL employees. The issue of compromised marriages, it has been revealed, has now been cascaded to involve adopted children who now side with their mothers who are breadwinners against their unemployed fathers. Some girl children are said to be claiming sexual abuse while boys on the other hand would order their mothers to chase away their unemployed spouses.
Gender Based Violence (GBV) has increased dramatically in the mining town and since the closure of the mine and the trend has shifted to women emerging as abusers. Another new trend is that some men even come out of the closet to approach the police, dikgosi and social workers for mediation in their families possibly because of the emotional abuse in their homes. Many of the former mine employees have resorted to taking up Ipelegeng programme in large numbers just to have a little contribution towards sustaining their homes.
An increase in GBV cases has compelled stakeholders to resolve to organise a workshop where these issues would be addressed. Botshabelo Police Station Commander Superintendent Gothusamang Badubi confirmed an increase in GBV cases. She said since the mine closure they deal with GBV cases on a daily basis and cited a case in which a man was caught behind Botshabelo area beating up and stoning his partner whose hands and feet were tied. She said the man explained that he had to tie the partner because he is scared of her. The woman was accused of cheating. Badubi said they channel some of the cases where marriages are compromised to the district offices and dikgosi to save them from breaking up. In some cases they do follow-ups to see if reconciliation materialised in those families and also engage spiritual counselling. She attributed increased GBV cases to the fact that most men are now unemployed after the mine closure. She said though men do not come in high numbers to report such cases the police can pick abuse on the part of women during mediation. Badubi noted that some women are bold enough to confirm that they have marital affairs because that is how they are able to provide for their
She said through the workshop they hope to have a lasting solution to the problem and that they have prepared a questionaire for men to reveal their experiences and said men will be followed up at the shebeens and sports grounds to reach as many of them as possible. The station commander said they have recorded two murder cases involving partners in January this year and a threat to kill one in February. She added that a man is recovering in one of the government health facilities after being hit on the head with a spade by another man over a woman. She encouraged families to involve relevant stakeholders to address these matters and urged women to give men the respect they deserve even when they are unemployed.
Botshabelo Customary Court president Olebogeng Mojuta has also been complaining of escalating GBV cases in all the meetings she addressed. She also attributed the problem to unemployment necessitated by the mine closure as the statistics shot up immediately after the closure. In the cases she deals with everyday, women are breadwinners therefore they pressurise men look to for jobs, yet it is a fact that jobs are very scarce. She said during an interview that abuse in any form should not exist when a family encounters problems. “Women should live by the vows the made and play their role when men are unemployed. Always remember that you vowed that only death will do you apart not challenges,” she advised.
She observed that most women resort to extra-marital affairs that have now increased because they influence each other to have affairs to provide for the families. “Marriages have a commitment attached to it, but the trend we experience since the mine closure is worse than what we used to deal with. Issues of cases of adopted children have also started to emerge. Children become jealous that their mothers have shouldered all the responsibility and side with them. The scenario is dangerous because it becomes two against one,” she added.
Mojuta advised married couples to avoid extra-marital affairs at all costs and said seeking advice and reconciliation curbs passion killing and suicides.