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Kimberley - A woman, who was buried in the ground with her upper body exposed, was pelted with burning coal and stones until she died.
Gabaediwe Motsage, 22, was allegedly beaten and stoned to death by a 30-year-old traditional surgeon and three other women after escaping from an initiation school in Hartswater.
Motsage’s mother, Martha, battled to hold back the tears on Thursday when she revealed the grisly details of her daughter’s murder.
“My baby escaped from the initiation school on Monday after they burned her buttocks with burning coal. She arrived at the house crying and when we asked her what was wrong she showed us what they had done to her it appeared as if they tried to force the burning coal into her buttocks,” Martha stated.
One of Martha’s neighbours told the DFA that after Motsage escaped from the initiation school, some of the elders, who are related to the initiation school’s traditional surgeon, visited her home in Utlwanang on Tuesday where they forcefully took her.
“They told her that she had to finish the process since she had been there already. But instead of welcoming her back we are told that the traditional surgeon and the other women at the school buried her in the ground with her upper body exposed and started beating her and throwing burning stones and coal at her until she died,” he said.
Martha said that she called the police after the elderly men took her child back to the initiation school against her will “but they (the police) told me that they will not interfere in issues that relate to initiation schools”.
Northern Cape police spokesman, Lieutenant Olebogeng Tawana, rejected Martha’s claims.
“We do not think that there’s any truth in the allegation that the police officer did not investigate this incident. But Martha has a right to open a case and we will investigate it,” Tawana stated.
He could not confirm whether Motsage had burn injuries on her body. “But we cannot rule out the possibility that she was pelted with rocks because of the injuries sustained. She also had injuries on her body that look like they were inflicted by a sjambok,” Tawana stated.
Martha said that a few hours after her child was taken from them, they were told that she was dead.
“They abducted her they took her away from me, against my will and hers. They forced her into the school and killed her,” Martha said.
She explained that the school’s traditional surgeon never consulted with her on enrolling her child. “She had no right to take my child and kill her,” Martha said.
She added that the fact that her child escaped from the school just hours after she was enrolled showed that she did not want to be there.
“Motsage told us that she was assaulted several times when she asked for water or food she was beaten,” Martha stated.
Motsage’s father, Jakob Johnson, said that the schools’ traditional surgeon had told them that since his child (Motsage) had been enrolled at the school, she (the traditional surgeon) wanted R600 in cash and other items such as a goat before she could release her in January.
“We did not want her (Motsage) to go there because we did not have the money for those things,” he stated.
Martha explained that her family has been left traumatised by her child’s death.
“We are barely surviving it is painful to lose a child in such a vicious manner. I haven’t slept properly since her death we are left with more questions than answers as to why they killed her so brutally.
A friend of the victim, 17-year-old Mosipidi Mokhase, said that he was shocked by the incident because “in our culture this is not supposed to be happening”.
“I also went through the rites of passage when I was 12 years old but this never happened to us,” he said.
Martha’s neighbour, Joyce Sagela, called on the Phokwane Municipality to shut down the school because children as young as nine had been enrolled there.
“What does a nine-year-old child know about culture or law? It is clear that these people are making money at the expense of children’s lives,” she said.
Councillor Dibueng Meza visited Matsage’s family on Thursday to offer a message of condolence. The Phokwane Municipality’s spokeswoman, Kgalalelo Letshabo, said that the mayor, Vuyisile Ken, will visit the family today.
Several community members in Hartswater have called on the municipality and law enforcement agencies to close down the school.
“We have received reports that other children are also being assaulted at that school. We are also worried that, since the traditional surgeon has been arrested, there is no one at the school who can look after the younger children that are still there,” one community member said.
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