Cohabitation: Mmopane Village’s Nightmare

Simon Manthe
Simon Manthe

MMOPANE: Couples are increasingly choosing to live together rather than to marry, a move cited as fuelling crimes of passion.

The Monitor team recently visited Mmopane, a village situated a few kilometres out of Gaborone, where traditional leaders of the area revealed they are grappling with ‘vat-en-sit’, as cohabitation is popularly known.

When the team arrived, we met Mmopane kgosi, Simon Manthe who was found in the company of his uncle and right-hand man, Babedi Manthe.

Babedi told The Monitor that young cheap rental hunters, who are flocking the village in high numbers, choose to live together than marry, a move that the leaders is not pleased with as it fuels crimes of passion.


The traditional leaders said their concern follows a series of crimes of passion they continue to record in high numbers.

They highlighted that the Setswana culture is against cohabitation as it (the culture) encourages couples to marry and start families, but it has become a norm for modern youth to choose to live together than marry, something that always ends in tears.

For his part, Babedi said he has observed that the majority of lovers are no longer able to control their anger or frustrations as of late they have been exhibiting a frightening lack of control.

His observation is that couples’ anger has resulted in alarming cases of violent crimes such as murder, which most of the time starts as disputes amongst lovers.

“We are grappling with passion killings, these cases continue to spiral out of control in our village as people no longer value the sanctity of human life,” Babedi said.

“What worries me the most is that when we invite residents for kgotla meetings to discuss and sensitise them on these issues, they fail to turn up. We are fighting a losing battle because women continue to lose their lives at the hands of their lovers or ex-lovers.”

Babedi said he has realised that most of the crimes of passion occur as a result of petty issues and insecurity amongst partners, something that could have been avoided if the couple could consider talking things out when troubled. He added that fights amongst lovers and ex-lovers are reported on daily basis, disputes that could have been easily avoided if couples could avoid cohabitation.

“Not long ago we had a murder incident in which a Gaborone University College (GUC) student was stabbed to death by her lover. It seems like people, especially the youth enter relationships with delusions, fantasies and false perceptions. Lovers’ fights usually start as suspicion of cheating or insecurities amongst them and end up leading to deaths or injuries,” he said.

Furthermore, Babedi said the majority of young unemployed women are cohabiting with their boyfriends and depend on them for almost everything hence being vulnerable to abuse.

Simon concurred with Babedi that conflict that usually leads to murder or some other violent crimes amongst intimate partners continue to spiral out of control in his area. He urged women who are commonly the victims of such violent crimes, to be cautious of their partners’ insecurities.

“Murder cases involving intimate partners, especially boyfriends, girlfriends and ex-lovers remain a concern in this area and we have observed that they are fuelled by cohabitation amongst the youth,” Simon said.

“Intimate relationships end as a result of jealousy and people kill others out of mistrust or obsessive possessiveness. I am pleading with women to be cautious of such behaviours and end such relationships as early as possible.”

Simon added when women are no longer interested in the relationship men interpret their disinterest as having developed interest in someone else.

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