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‘Please help me do surgery from man to woman’

Yvonne Mooka

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Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who was recently attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is pleading for help from members of the public to assist with sponsoring her sex reassignment surgery from male to female.

A free-spirit, Matshameko says that she is tired of being disrespected because of her sexual orientation. She is pleading to both government and the private sector to help her perform the surgery. She says that she has been advised that it can be done in South Africa.

“It’s not by choice that I’m a transgender woman. I’m tired of the bullying and insults hurled at me every now and then. People call me words like ‘brazen’, skhokho, laitiyaka and auti. I ‘m a woman and I want to live my life in peace,” she says. She works at Payless, BBS mall in Gaborone. “Next to where I work, there are some boys that always shout at me and call me names. They’d say to me ‘Hey wena o p**o, mosimane ke wena o itirang ngwanyana. O batla thupa, o batla go bolawa,” she says however adding that she has chosen to ignore them.

She says that employees from other stores would come to her supermarket to harass her and shout at her in front of customers saying she is a man and should stop behaving like a woman. Last month, a 43 second- long video of Matshameko lying on the floor, behind a car with a group of people calling out her private parts and saying she needs to be exposed on Facebook, circulated on social media. In the video one of the men slaps her bare buttocks, saying that she is not a woman. They also removed her wig. The video ends with her crying.

In a previous interview with The Midweek Sun, she said that she had gone to the nightclub and decided to go out and use the toilets. “When I got there, I just fell and blacked-out. Bouncers from the club then decided to take advantage of me upon seeing me as it is shown on the video. They did so with their friends that don’t work there,” she said then.

A trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. For Matshameko, she discovered that she was transgender when she was growing up. She says that even her family has long been aware of it. “When I discovered that I’m a woman, I felt good about it. It’s who I am,” she says.

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WEDDING ROYALE

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Kgosi Bokamoso Radipitse of Bakhurutshe ba Tonota got married to Mohumagadi Koontse nee Batsweleng of the same village in a colourful ceremony befitting royalty on Saturday in Tonota. The special occasion was held at the spacious main Tonota Kgotla, which boasts two permanent all-weather shelters fitted with public address system, chairs and free WI-Fi.

As with his installation two years ago, the wedding once again united the tribe as all members participated. Most impressive was the active involvement of the elegantly dressed Bazezuru women who formed part of the ushering team.

The royal couple arrived at the main Tonota Kgotla riding on a white chariot pulled by a horse. This was after parading in the main streets of the village for the villagers who could not make it to the main Kgotla. The chariot was escorted by a convoy of Honda Fit vehicles mostly owned by members of the Tonota Taxi Association and well wishers led by area MP and Minister of Tertiary Education, Thapelo Olopeng. There was also a convoy of V-8 engine Land- Rovers.

Mohumagadi Koontse is the daughter of Mme Kerotse Batsweleng in Mmandunyane. Batsweleng was born in Kanye at Ruele ward. The couple first met in 2011 during the population census where the Kgosi was absolutely smitten by the gorgeous damsel. The couple is blessed with two sons, Theriso and Seabo. Mohumagadi Koontse is still employed by government as a teacher at Makolojwane in Serowe.

The guest list included Magosi of different tribes amongst them Bamangwato regent, Sediegeng Kgamane, Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele of Bahurutshe ba Manyana, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo, Ministers Olopeng and Kgotla Autlweetse. Although Kgosi Radipitse is a fully fledged Kgosi, he has however not been draped with a leopard skin in line with the custom.

The simple reason is that his father, Kgosi Ramosinyi who retired, is still alive. Tonota chieftainship succession is clearly defined. No one has ever challenged the lineage.

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FROM GRASS TO GRACE

Yvonne Mooka

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On March 2, Katso Kaone Tlhobogang decided to go to a Red Tie gala dinner at Boatle, only to be ridiculed by social media users for her outfit a few days later.The 22 year-old Ramotswa woman had opted for a vintage look, with a loose peach skirt and green blouse that set tongues wagging.

When The Midweek Sun visited her, she explained the incident. “I hate tight clothes. I love colour blocking and I love pleated skirts. Before the event, I went to a store in Gaborone and honestly, when I saw the skirt, I felt it was long and big. The shop assistant however wanted me to buy it. I left and tried other stores but there was nothing for me. So I went back for the peach skirt and I remembered I had a green blouse to match it, so I bought it,” she says.

At home, her aunt Caroline Molefi-Jamieson asked her how she was going to dance wearing such a long skirt but she was having none of it. The aunt tells The Midweek Sun: “She actually danced for me in the skirt and she was feeling so free and happy.” Tlhobogang says that when she arrived at the event, people gave her some funny stares, something she says indicated to her immediately that her outfit was out of place. She however says she cared less and went ahead and danced. The event had a red-carpet and an official photographer and Tlhobogang did not hesitate to have her pictures taken as well.

“The photographer called me and I enjoyed the moment as I posed like crazy! Like Tyra Banks and them!” says the model, who is also a Certificate in Banking and Finance holder. She is currently assisting her aunt with running her pre-school. According to her aunt, last Thursday they had taken their pupils to Lion Park for recreational activities when she found 64 missed calls on her phone. Tlhobogang had left her phone at home. She says that when they got back to school around 4pm, Tlhobogang’s cousin called her saying people were ridiculing her on Facebook over her outfit. “I kept quiet and did not tell her anything. When the rest of the staff was gone, I then told her that her cousin was saying she was trending on Facebook.

But she took it lightly till we got home when she got hold of her phone and checked Facebook,” she says. She reveals that on that day, her niece could not eat and was weak. Her face was swollen, she says. “I even moved from my bedroom to hers because I was afraid she was suicidal. I had to force her to eat by taking her to Nandos the following night around 10,” she says.

Tlhobogang admits she was angry and sad. She states that out of 156 pictures shared from the event, hers was mocked because she was not wearing a skimpy outfit that exposes breasts and butts like other women. “They probably thought I didn’t qualify for the event. That I was a misfit,” she says. Next to her, Phenyo Molefi, her cousin, shared that he too had been taken aback by the Facebook posts. “Actually, on Thursday, I saw the pictures before she and her mom could, and I kept quiet but I was fuming.

If I had the means, I would have gone and dealt with everyone who insulted her. I spent the whole day sleeping because I couldn’t handle it,” he says. As fate would have it, the people that attacked and ridiculed Tlhobogang now have to eat humble pie as she is receiving love from all over the world – not just locally. People are calling her to give her vouchers for clothes. Others are simply sending her messages asking for her shoe size and clothing size.

She has received an offer to go to Turkey by a local minister’s wife for a shopping spree. Others have offered to take her to Johannesburg, Okavango Deltas, among others. “I have close to 80 clothing offers from people calling from locally, outside and countries such as China and Morocco. My tears have turned into joy. It’s so unbelievable how it has worked out to my favour,” she says.

Tomorrow (Thursday), a local designer Theo Bree Khumo is hosting a re-makeover session for her at Grand Palm. “I’ll be wearing the same skirt but she says they are going to change it here and there. Other ladies will come wearing a similar skirt but in flair designs,” she says.

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