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Lorato Bontle* is everything that any child would ever dream to have in a mother. A resilient and inspirational mother who has the strength of a thousand women, Bontle is a sterling example of the lengths and depths that some parents would go to give their children a better future.

Fourteen years ago, Bontle gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Tlhabi*. Tlhabi is currently doing Form 1. She is confined to a wheelchair due to a condition known as Amelia (born with no legs and arms). She is unable to do any basic tasks without any assistance – such as bathing herself, getting dressed, and many others that other able-bodied people can do. Tlhabi will be one of the beneficiaries of this year’s edition of the Desert Bush Walk slated for this Saturday in Jwaneng.

She has a number of needs, and organisers are hopeful that they will be able to assist. Every morning, since she started school, her mother has literally been with her at every chance. Using an old wheelchair that does not have any straps to hold her safe, the two take the walk and wheelchair ride to and from school every morning and afternoon, and the mother does this with a smile and swears it is what she will continue doing for as long as it will be necessary. What makes her even more extraordinary is that besides Tlhabi, she has three other children, the eldest being 23 years old, and her youngest being just two months old. Ideally, she should be in confinement as tradition dictates caring for the youngest member of her family, but that is not the case.

She told this publication that life has been treating them well, despite the daily challenges that they face. Bontle’s role at school is to assist Tlhabi when she has to use the bathroom, feed her and do other things that she needs help with. A teacher-aid handles the other responsibilities to do with education. “We rely on the support of her school peers, and school administration including her teachers such as Lekwalo Thobega,” she explained. This has obviously affected her because while her focus is on her daughter, her life is literally on a standstill. Having accepted Tlhabi the way she is has gone a long way in making life easier for her in the community.

For her part, Tlhabi who sat quietly dressed in her beautiful dress and a girly jacket, said she really appreciates everything that her mother has done for her. At school, she is in love with two subjects – Religious Education and Office Procedures – and wants to have her own office one day! “I actually want to be a doctor when I grow up,” she said as she smiled shyly, adding that she really enjoys her time in school. “I love going to school and learning. One day, I am going to make my mother proud and do something remarkable for her,” she said. Thobega, a Counselling teacher at the school, described Tlhabi as a beautiful soul with a very strong character. She pointed out that other children would have long given up on going to school but that this is not the case with her. “One thing that makes her even more special is the fact that everywhere she goes, everyone has to stand and accommodate her,” she said.

She noted that Tlhabi needs essentials such as a special toilet, a wheelchair, a walkway for the wheelchair. She also needs special books as she uses her neck to hold a pen. “She is doing very well at school, and enjoys her education a lot,” she said. To ascertain her needs, local NGO, Diamonds of Hope recently took her for assessment at the Jwaneng Mine. A representative of the organisation Sethunya Moala explained that they will take her to Johannesburg for further assessment. She said that Tlhabi needs an electric wheelchair, limbs, and that they will see how they help her.

The NGO has been in existence for three years, and their focus is on charity work. Other projects that they have been involved in include working with the Matsha students who were involved in a truck accident some years back. They have also assisted a Moshupa resident who lost her property to a house fire to mention a few. She said that they hold a fundraising dinner every year and that was how they heard about Tlhabi. Bontle* and Tlhabi* are pseudonyms to protect the identities of the subjects

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He was shot!



The family of Rakops Chief Letang Segaise is convinced that high-ranking officials are behind his gruesome murder.The family has vowed that it will not rest until justice is served. Segaise was laid to rest last week after his burnt body and car were found in the bush a few kilometres away from the village.

The chief had been missing for more than 40 days. “Of course we know who is responsible (for the heinous crime) it’s just that we do not have enough evidence to prove it but this was a well-orchestrated plan by big names with flourishing bank accounts,” said an angry family member who preferred anonymity.They believe that the killer is well prepared and has covered his or her tracks well to reduce chances of ever getting caught.

They say people were hired to do the dirty job and that the “big guns” behind the murder are watching quietly from high places while “we waste our breath screaming for justice.”
This week Segaise’s family accused the government system of failing them. A member told The Midweek Sun that they have long asked the Police to grant them permission to go on a peaceful protest against ritual killings in the village but are being sent from pillar to post.

They said they went to the police for the permit only to be told that they should seek help from the District Commissioner, who allegedly sent them back to Police.Rakops station commander Thito Freeman said he advised the woman who called him that they have never heard of a family wanting to demonstrate because they would not know how to classify them.

“Permits are obtained here and it is normally organisations or unions but a family is a first and I do not know where to place them in the eyes of the law,” he said.vThe family member said the family is now scared to publicly air their opinions because it is proving extremely hard to reason with the government. “How can we reason with them when they do not want to listen, we are nobodies to think we can take on the mighty government.

“They will easily squash us and airing our views here on newspapers is angering them,” they said. The family shared that they have received a half baked report that indicates that Segaise was shot with a gun on his left ribcage. They suspect that the criminals who killed their father were aiming for his heart. The family is now struggling to come to terms with what happened to one of their own, whom they described as a departed hero, The family member said acts of people disappearing without a trace in the village have become commonplace, but nothing is being done about them.
It is for these reasons that they wish to unite the community with a peaceful demonstration.

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‘I have lost a pillar’

Yvonne Mooka



HAPPIER TIMES: The late Roda with Rorisang

Rorisang Matlhaku – boyfriend to the late Rodah Putsini Kegontse – says she was an ever-smiling girl who loved giving people advice and was always there for them whenever they were experiencing challenges.

Kegontse, 19, took her own life two days after Independence holidays inside Matlhaku’s house in Ramotswa. In an interview with The Midweek Sun this week, he narrated the painful ordeal.
“She had travelled to her home village of Kanye for Independence. She surprised me by coming back to me after two days.

“There was an entertainment event which we both attended with friends,” he said. Around midnight, she asked to be dropped off at Matlhaku’s house, where he said he would join her a bit later.
Matlhaku stated that around 2am, he asked his younger sister who was with him at the event, to go and drop him off at his place. “As I passed by the bathroom, I noticed the bathtub was full of water and I thought my girlfriend had probably just finished bathing.

“When I entered the bedroom, I saw her lifeless body hanging inside the wardrobe and I quickly called my sister to drive back to my place,” he said. Matlhaku, 27, said that she had no clue what could have led his girlfriend to take her own life as she was likeable and jovial. “She was the most loving person I had ever met. She put me first before everything. When I asked her why at that age she loved me that much, she would say it was embedded in her. She even quit alcohol saying it wasn’t right that she was drinking while I wasn’t,” he said,

He said they started dating this year March. But again, he said Kegontse exhibited signs of depression. She would tell him that she used to burst into tears while in class while at secondary school becaue she felt at the time that her spirit was not well or that nobody liked her.

“She felt she wasn’t beautiful enough, that she was worthless and that people were always mocking her about her weight loss, but I always assured her that I loved her with my whole heart,” he said.
He described her as a simple person and a God-fearing young woman. “Whenever I came to her with my problems, she would advise me like a mature person, leaving me feeling better.

“She even joked that I should pay her because I had turned her into my business advisor. She used to call me every morning saying I should wake up and go and work for Basmati rice and not pap, saying we should aim higher and work for expensive things. She was my pillar,” said the man who runs a horticulture business.
Kegontse was buried this past Saturday in Kanye.

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