THATO AND JESSE’S
1300KM WALK AGAINST ABUSE
THATO Molosankwe is walking 1 317.5km from Cape Town to Mahikeng, North West, in a meritorious act of getting men to take responsibility for the scourge of woman and child abuse. But that is not his story. His is a story of a man who led a life of debauchery, which caused him to abuse the women closest to him – including neglecting his pregnant girlfriend and stealing from his younger sister to feed his gambling addiction.
But that all changed on June 29, 2014 when his first child was born. This “miraculous” event pushed him to be a better person and a responsible man.
Molosankwe, 39, told The Star how he almost destroyed his and his girlfriend’s life by falling into what he called the painful cycle of men who father children but leave the women to raise the child alone, because of the “irresponsible” life he led.
“When my girlfriend was pregnant, I was a gambling addict – I lived my life for gambling. I was not there for my son’s mother when she was pregnant,” he explained.
“My sister works for The Star and I was living with her in her house. But I decided to leave her house, because I was becoming a problem. My gambling addiction was turning me into an emotional abuser, meaning that I would gamble my sister’s money away and I would not check what was happening with my girlfriend’s pregnancy.”
Molosankwe’s younger sister, Botho, is currently The Star’s Live Editor.
“I moved out of my sister’s house because I realised that I was abusing her emotionally by always gambling her money and selling her laptop and her navigator. You know, as a gambler, you end up behaving like a drug addict – you end up selling anything just to satisfy your addiction,” Molosankwe contended, his voice disclosing the shame he felt.
He added that he lived on the streets of the Joburg CBD, including under the infamous Faraday bridge and at the Bree taxi rank.
“On June 29, 2014 when I was at the Bree taxi rank, I received a call that my son was born. The news changed my life instantly,” he asserted.
“I went to look for a job. I called someone I knew and I was called for an interview. On July 1, I started working. That is when I changed my life in order to be a better father and to look after my son and be part of his life.”
It is this passion to be an excellent mentor and role model for his three-year-old son Omogolo Moeteledipele – Setswana names loosely translated to God is great/my son is a leader – that inspired him to be involved in programmes that he said would teach his son to be a responsible man that should abhor woman and child abuse.
Molosankwe added that he and his friends have an annual walk from Joburg to their hometown of Mahikeng, called “Jozi to Maftown Walk Against Women and Child Abuse” that he decided to extend, because of what he felt was the rising statistics in the country.
“By extending this distance, it touched a lot of people that I’m walking from Cape Town to Mahikeng – and increased my following on Facebook. Those are the people we need to reach, because many of them are in abusive relationships or are abusing women and children,” he said.
“The ultimate goal that we want to achieve is to reduce these horrible statistics. But this time it is different, because this walk is called# Father Son Mentor ship Against Women And Child Abuse. We are looking at a long-term goal… that fathers must raise and teach their children to respect women. And all that begins from an early age,” he said.
Molosankwe, after beginning his journey on his own, met a companion in Worcester. This was Jesse, who was sleeping on the streets after running away from home because of the abuse he had suffered at the hands of his father.
Molosankwe and Jesse, 36, struck up a relationship at a Worcester shelter – “because I know street life, as I have also lived there” – and Jesse decided to accompany him on his journey to Mahikeng.
Molosankwe’s Facebook friends were at first concerned about Jesse being part of the walk as they feared for Molosankwe’s safety.
“But Jesse gave me his mother’s contact details and I called his mother, spoke to her and Jesse’s sister.
“Jesse’s mother sent me a message after our conversation, in which I told her what the walk was about and she said to me: ‘Please my brother, look after my son. We don’t know where he is, because he had been abused a lot by his father.’
“That really touched me, because this guy was telling me the truth that his father had abused him.”
On their journey, the two men engage with communities and ask the men to pledge not to abuse women.
Molosankwe started walking on July 9 and has already covered more than 600km.
The pair are pushing to reach Mahikeng on August 8, a day before National Women’s Day, as they will be driven to the national celebrations in the Northern Cape to be honoured by President Jacob Zuma.
Molosankwe is also doing this to raise funds to build a recreation centre in his home village of Lomanyaneng, Mahikeng, to give children a place of refuge after school.
“I want the children to do their homework and focus on positivity, so that we can try to achieve 100% pass rates for all grades in the village.
“My plan is to have music and drama classes to get the kids off drugs and teenage pregnancy. I want to keep the village’s children off the streets,” he explained.
HIGHLIGHTING THEIR CAUSE: Thato Molosankwe, left, with Jesse, himself a victim of abuse, on their journey from Cape Town to Mahikeng to engage men in rural communities on the scourge of woman and child abuse.
Thato Molosankwe chose fatherhood over his gambling addiction.
Molosankwe on a mission.