Statistics on social crime in Letlhakane have incessantly presented a bad image of men as they stalk the girl-children and the women. Both the young girls and women are terrorised by a dark cloud of defilement and rape incidents that hang over their heads continuously. Now the police have moved a gear up to involve the community in the fight against the social crime scourge. Mmegi Staffer RYDER GABATHUSE & Correspondent LESEDI MKHUTSHWA follow the never-ending story
FRANCISTOWN: Some have been sexually abused outside their homes, whilst others were simply attacked in the comfort of their homes leaving ‘Zowa’ as Letlhakane is known, an unsafe place.
The story of social crime in Letlhakane is well documented unfortunately; it is refusing to go.
An atmosphere of mistrust hangs in the air as toddlers as young as two-years-old have been sexually abused previously by people who were supposed to provide parenting to them.
What level of insatiable appetite for sex will lead a 62-year-old to defile his grandchild as young as two years? For that matter, the toddler was entrusted to the grandfather for a short while in the absence of the grandmother who was a caregiver.
It sounds like a clip from a horror movie, but it happened recently in Letlhakane when her supposed caregiver ruined the future of the toddler.
In another unrelated incident, three girls aged between 14 and 17 years, were outside their homestead enjoying girls’ talk when a man of unknown age pounced on them and forcefully defiled them, one by one.
It’s common cause that the womenfolk in Letlhakane do not enjoy any freedom as they are continuously subjected to abuse by the menfolk. Fear is the order of the day as men rob their opposite sex of the requisite freedom to socialise at their preferred times.
The cases of defilement and rape have been occurring with a worrying regularity leaving the streets of Letlhakane very unsafe for the girl-children and women.
Despite several interventions by the police and their stakeholders to nip in the bud incidents of defilement of girls under 18 years and rape incidents, the cases persist anyway. At their wits’ end and certainly overwhelmed by a spike in the social crime incidents, the police have resorted to involving the villagers to help them fight the scourge of this social crime.
The police are worried that it seems some parents have relegated the responsibilities of parenting to the schools. Some parents even fail to take appropriate action when they realise their daughters are pregnant, instead wait upon the school to take action. Letlhakane, a village that for a long time has been known for hosting Debswana’s diamond mines with its sister mines, is located just a stones’ throw away from Orapa and Damtshaa.
Lately, just in the periphery of this diamond belt, lies Karowe mine with a reputation of producing large diamonds. The reputation of the diamond village of Letlhakane continues to be tarnished by some men who have resorted to the devilish behaviour of terrorising women and girls. Bothered by the unrelenting incidents of defilement and rape cases, Letlhakane police have chosen to involve the villagers to help them address the problem.
Last year, Letlhakane recorded about 95 cases of rape and 27 incidents of defilement of girls less than 18 years. Already between January and June this year, the village statistics show that Letlhakane police station has recorded 35 rape incidents and 11 cases of defilement of girls under 18 years.
Letlhakane Police station commander, Superintendent Michael Maphephu said that they have in the past implemented door-to-door campaigns to address the issues of defilement and rape in the area.
After realising the ever-changing faces of monstrous defilement and rape cases in their policing area, they have reverted to door-to-door campaigns.
The community’s cluster policing volunteers and some of the local police officers spearhead the campaign in order to fight crime in their policing area. The police have also engaged other stakeholders such as the chiefs, councillors and the area legislator in an attempt to widen their net.
“In our journey to fight against rape and defilement, we managed to hold community crime prevention campaigns over the past
He encouraged people to continue reporting sexual offences such as rape, defilement and incest, and not be intimidated by the perpetrators.
He said that people should never feel ashamed nor be scared that when they report sexual offences, they would be part of the statistics.
The Letlhakane station commander stated that such crimes should be reported so that perpetrators can be punished for justice to prevail for the victims. He condemned some parents for failing to play their role in the upbringing of their children, especially in raising the girl-child.
He said: “In most cases some parents are reluctant to guide or protect their children and there is evidence that most of the pregnant school girls are identified by their teachers at school rather than their parents at home.”
He urged parents to refrain from burdening teachers with the sole responsibility of their children, but rather they should start playing a crucial role in protecting and taking care of their children together with empowering them with life skills.
Boteti sub-region chief education officer, Milidzani Nduna said in the past they did not register as many cases of teenage pregnancies even though she was unable to provide the statistics to support her position.
She said that as a region when they read about defilement cases in Letlhakane in the media they usually make follow-ups with their schools.
Nduna suspected that most of the defilement cases reported to the police were mostly from students who dropped out of school for personal reasons and were staying with their parents.
She quickly clarified: “We have students who leave the school environment after completing Standard 7, Form 3 or just drop out at any grade and decide to stay at home. Such students will be removed from the academic system after interventions are made.
If such children are defiled at home, they would be suspected that they are students when in actual fact they had long dropped out from school.” She further said that currently, all the completing students comprising Form 5s, Form 3s and Standard 7s, have returned to school after lockdown. She added they did not register any cases of teenage pregnancy. Nduna said that so far, she has only received complaints of six students from different schools, who did not return to school.
Mmegi recently carried a report of two underaged girls who were returned from a local secondary school because of pregnancy when schools re-opened after the coronavirus-imposed closure and were referred to the village social workers for assistance. She added: “Some of them did not make it to the pick-up areas on time hence were left behind by the school buses when the schools reopened recently”.
When speaking about behavioural change interventions, Nduna said that the schools have developmental and comprehensive school guidance and counselling programmes, which teach about personal development and sexual intercourse.
She said that such forums have been implemented through morning assembly and through guidance and counselling lessons provided by qualified guidance and counselling teachers.
She also said that students are also taught about topics such as child abuse and defilement as part of moral education and social studies syllabus.
“We also offer a suitable environment for the school drop-outs who re-join the academic system postpartum confinement period through a special programme by qualified guidance and counselling teachers.” She added that the qualified guidance and counselling teachers often guide and counsel the school dropouts so that they can never be discouraged and focus on their academic performance.