THATO AND JESSE’S

1300KM WALK AGAINST ABUSE

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO

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.

@khayakoko88

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.

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