It was indescribable pain all around as relatives, classmates, teachers, residents of the location and the capital city in general took a young girl, Koketso Pearl Modibedi, 9, whose life was snuffed out by a known assailant, to her last resting place at Broadhurst cemetery on Sunday.
Her Standard 3 classmates sat confusedly amongst adult mourners, tears streaming down their uncomplicated faces, at White City’s House Number 1666. But heart-broken speaker after speaker, including the girl’s class teacher comforted the family, especially the girl’s granny, Emang Madikwe, mother, Neo Modibedi and father, Kefentse Spain Moilwa. According to a profile at the back of her funeral programme, Koketso Pearl Modibedi was born on August 18, 2008 in Gaborone to Kefentse Spain Moilwa and Neo Modibedi. She started Standard 1 in 2014 at Thebe Primary School and was in Standard 3 when she died.
Some of the mourners even suggested that the heavy downpours of the previous night were God weeping for the innocent blood that had been callously shed by a man who apparently must have been after the mother of ‘brilliant’ Nkoki that night, but on not finding her at home, turned his jealous rage on the girl, raping and strangling her to death. The girl’s lifeless body, wrapped in a sheet, was discovered by residents who were alerted to the scene by the wailing of the deceased’s younger brother who despite a tender age, must have witnessed as the man raped and strangled his sister. Apparently, after he had satisfied his lust for blood and gore, the assailant heaved the girl’s corpse and dumped it under a morula tree opposite Motovac, on the Old Lobatse Road.
A big sign of the previous night’s heavy downpours were the dewdrops that, as the sun rose, cascaded down the military tent that covered the foreground of the compound, where Nkoki must have played house with her younger sibling and other children on that street or, a booklover that she was, enthusiastically delved into her homework, or read her books while sitting on her haunches. Luckily, and perhaps due to time-consciousness of the MC, Khutsafalo “Best “Khutsafalo, those who had been selected, or had volunteered to speak on the life of the deceased were short, sharp and to the point, on who Nkoki was, though most spoke
“At first I thought she was just bluffing, but when I saw her determination and serious devotion, I could not help loving her back. She was like one of a kind. Rest in peace Pearl,” said the teacher, who had control of her emotions until the very last when her voice failed her. The other thing was that Koketso appeared to really like her middle name, Pearl such that when the teacher first rebuked her for including the name, Nkoki dropped her eyes and tilted her head to one side, a sign that she did not want to let go of the name. The teacher relented and Koketso would relish writing “Pearl” on her books and test papers. The teacher had earlier likened a child to a three legged pot, the three legs being the child’s school, the parents and community with the child in the middle. She said all of them should join hands in ensuring their children were moulded into responsible citizens.
The Deputy Speaker of the national assembly, Kagiso Molatlhegi, who is also Gaborone South legislator, was however scathing about pictures of suspects in murder cases flashed across television screens and in front pages of newspapers.
To the murmur of disapproval from the crowd, he said showing pictures of such people on television and in newspapers encouraged copycat behaviour. One man could be heard muttering: “We need to see those people. We have to know them because if it was not for the newspapers and television, we would not know the killers. Now that we have seen the picture of the person who did this, we would identify him if he were to be released on bail.”