On April 27, 2009 *Malebogo Max Molefhe was shot eight times by an enraged boyfriend. The gunshot that was meant to blow her brains off mysteriously jammed. The gun failed to fire. Six years later, on the last day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, Molefhe, with tears rolling down her cheeks, gives a horrific testimony of a toxic and abusive relationship that eventually condemned her to a wheelchair. Staff Writer THALEFANG CHARLES captured the harrowing saga
“In the beginning everything was so beautiful. We loved each other immensely. We played basketball together. We shared similar interests and we were good friends.
“But few years on, we started to fight a lot. We argued a lot and I started noticing things that were not so kind. He would speak to me anyhow he wanted, but would apologise later and everything would be back to normal.
“The arguments then escalated into physical abuse where he would slap me for nothing. I tolerated it until such time that he would kick me, but still I would not report it. As in many relationships, we kept going back and forth with the hope that it would get better with time. We would break-up and make-up again and again.
“It continued so long that it started getting normal that whenever he would hit me it would be okay, we would talk about it later and I would forgive him.
“But after 10 years in the relationship and having completing school, everything of mine was suffering. I had stopped playing ball. I was a basketball player, and I even played for the national team at some point. My life was fruitful. I had a good paying job. I worked for BTC, but most days I didn’t go to work because I had to cover up my bruises. I would feel emotional and stressed out at work. This went on for so long.
“We do have limits as people. And I finally reached my limit with the abuse. We talked about it and we agreed that it was okay for us to part because the relationship has broken irretrievably. There was no way for us to go back and still be friends.
“Somewhere down the line he wanted to come back. He wanted to communicate and apologise. But I did not give him that room to apologise because I knew that I was starting to see the light from the dark pit that I was in. I needed to change my life, to get away from the abusive environment that I was in. I wanted my life to be better. But he could not stomach that. I had to secretly move houses. I stayed in one house but he found me. I ran off again and rented another house in Block 9. I felt safer at that house.
“On April 27, 2009 around 2am, I was rudely awakened by a loud bang on the window. I screamed so hard thinking I was being attacked by thieves. I did not think he would come there because we had not seen each for about four months and I thought he did not know the place.
Then I heard a familiar voice calling from outside saying ‘Please don’t shout at me’. I saw his face. He was begging for me to open the door saying he just wanted us to talk.
I refused to open and said ‘let me call your brother because I am very scared of you’. I knew that he had a very short fuse and used his hands too quickly. We agreed that I could call his brother. But when I started to dial the number, he raised his hand and said, ‘I have got a gun here, it’s loaded, open up or I will kill you’.
“I have never seen a real gun in my life. I got the worst shock that I have never ever experienced in my life. He was shouting many threats to kill me, telling the number of bullets in the gun. I was very terrified. I felt so weak, then numb and eventually collapsed on the floor. He went around to the door and shot at it many times.
There was such a massive explosion of noise. Then there were screams from outside. I was confused. Everything happened so fast that I could not comprehend what was going on. Suddenly the door broke open and he came through and pulled me from the floor.
Surprisingly he spoke to me so softly saying, ‘Babe please get up, get dressed, we are going’. I was naked. I put on a Tshirt and walked out with him. I didn’t know where he was taking me. Just as we got to the gate, there were blue lights everywhere, the police and soldiers had arrived.
He then pulled me back into the yard again. I was totally confused and didn’t even do or think anything. He pressed me against the wall and put a gun on my head and pulled the trigger.
“I heard a click sound. But, by the grace of God, the bullet jammed. He released me to try and fix the gun and that is when I tried to flee. Within a short distance away from him I felt a hot substance hitting and piercing on my back.
“I fell face down on the ground. He came over and shot at me many times until he thought I had died.
Then he shot himself. His body fell down right besides me. I laid there in a pool of blood struggling to breathe. I was losing my consciousness.
Then I heard voices saying, ‘It’s a woman and a man. The woman seems to be alive’.
“I was driven to the clinic then to Marina Hospital. I thought I was not going to survive it. I had many infections and caught lot of ailments because many organs were affected. Luckily I was transferred to some specialists in South Africa where I stayed for months until my medical aid funds ran out and returned to Marina.
It was not easy for my family, but as their only child, they stood by me through it all.
Then I started blaming myself. Why did I have to stay so long in the abusive relationship? Why did I not see the signs? The signs have been there all along, clear, but I ignored them. I was in love and I pretended not to notice other negatives.”
*Molefhe was giving her testimony at US Mission’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence event on Thursday in Gaborone.