Pair go the dis­tance to show that real men do care

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - STAFF RE­PORTER

AN EPIC 1 317km walk from Cape Town to Mahikeng to raise aware­ness of the abuse of women and chil­dren ended in a hero’s welcome when the two walk­ers fi­nally ar­rived home.

Ex­hausted, sun­burnt and a few kilo­grams lighter, Thato Molosankwe and Jesse le Roux ar­rived in the North West cap­i­tal on Women’s Day af­ter com­plet­ing their jour­ney, which started on July 9.

Molosankwe had started the month-long trek on his own but met Le Roux on the fourth day in Worces­ter.

Le Roux had been liv­ing on the streets be­cause his fam­ily had fled home, al­legedly be­cause of abuse from his father. At the time they met, Le Roux did not know how he was go­ing to re­turn home to Oudt­shoorn.

How­ever, he joined Molosankwe on the walk af­ter telling him he had been liv­ing on the streets, eat­ing from dust­bins.

Le Roux is now plan­ning to re­main in Mahikeng, Molosankwe’s home city, and start a new life there. Good Sa­mar­i­tans have al­ready of­fered him a home and a job.

Many Mahikeng res­i­dents gath­ered at Danville Park where the pair were praised for their ef­forts to raise aware­ness of the abuse of women and chil­dren. Bik­ers, cy­clists and many oth­ers lined the streets as the pair ar­rived, ul­u­lat­ing and hoot­ing, and some held plac­ards de­nounc­ing abuse. Walk­ers who had made the trek from Joburg for the same cause were also present.

North West So­cial De­vel­op­ment MEC Hoff­man Galeng said Molosankwe had done the prov­ince proud and put it on the map. He said he wished that the many youths at­tend­ing the event, es­pe­cially the boys and men, would em­u­late him.

“What you did to­day we will follow in those foot­steps. Even gang­sters, wher­ever they are, we hope they don’t (harm) girl chil­dren and our moth­ers,” he said.

Galeng said when Molosankwe saw our moth­ers and sis­ters be­ing raped, he stood up and said: “Not in my name.

“Thato, we will at all times heed those words… that men who re­spect them­selves, re­gard them­selves as men, say: ‘Not in our names’. We say this to­day, when you in­sult, hit a lady or a girl you are cursed.”

Ad­dress­ing the wel­com­ing crowd, Molosankwe said an abuser did not have a spe­cific look and women should not be scared of get­ting help when they find them­selves in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships.

He re­minded men that call­ing their wives and girl­friends stupid and also com­par­ing them to other women, say­ing they were bet­ter than them, was a form of abuse. He said he started the walk by ap­proach­ing a group of men in Khayelit­sha, Cape Town, and spoke to them about the an­tiabuse mes­sage. He later found him­self on a train spread­ing the mes­sage from one coach to the next.

Molosankwe be­lieved his trek may have changed lives. “As I spoke to men along the way, they were pre­pared to lis­ten. They raised many is­sues and agreed abuse was ‘a to­tal no-no’.”

An­other of­fi­cial said the trek was aimed at high­light­ing the hard­ship that women en­dure.

“Let’s go home and see to it that the abuse of women and chil­dren ends. It should not only end up at your home but at your neigh­bours too,” he said.

* Tefo, 21, said he had learnt a lot from Molosankwe.

He added that he was the kind of per­son who had be­haved harshly to­wards his ro­man­tic part­ners. How­ever, that was now in the past.

“To­day, I learnt the im­por­tance of lis­ten­ing to my girl­friends and re­spect­ing them so that I can also be re­spected as a man.

“If we dis­agree on some­thing, I don’t have to give them dirty looks or be harsh with them,” he added.

* Not his real name

‘You’re cursed if you strike or in­sult women and chil­dren’

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