Pretoria - Two months ago Sophie Thapi Ledwaba changed her Facebook profile picture to include a frame denouncing violence against women. However, the 26-year-old was killed outside a popular nightclub in Sunnyside on Saturday night in an apparent gender-based violence incident.
Reports suggested that Ledwaba was shot and killed, allegedly by her blesser, outside Ayepyep Lifestyle Lounge.
It was alleged the man shot her because she refused to leave with him to be “blessed” at his place after he had bought her alcohol inside the popular club.
It is believed a man driving a Mercedes-Benz Viano had bought Ledwaba food and drinks throughout the evening. At the end of the outing, the man allegedly asked Ledwaba, originally from Limpopo and who lived in Sunnyside, to leave with him, but she refused.
His continued demands made her protest further and that angered him. It is claimed that by then they were already outside the club.
He was arrested soon after.
Onlookers took to social media to weigh in on the matter, bringing the “blesser” phenomenon into the fray.
Some social media users blamed Ledwaba for accepting drinks from a stranger, while others totally condemned the man’s behaviour.
Bophelo Manasa wrote on Facebook that Ledwaba should not have gone to the club without money for drinks and that she had brought this upon herself.
Tsholofelo Esther Lesame disagreed, saying there were men who spent millions without putting up a fight with anyone.
“This guy really, though he shot the poor girl for a R1000 bill. Men out there have spent millions and just walked away without fighting. Stupid guy; no need to shoot the girl.”
Others blamed the accused for waving his chequebook in her face to get her to give in to his demands, while others questioned if she had not provoked him in any way.
Sunnyside police spokesperson Captain Daniel Mavimbela said a 30-year old male suspect had been arrested in connection with the killing. However, he had a different take on the events.
“It was reported that the suspect had left the club with two females and a male friend. However, the quartet were about to get into a Mercedes-Benz Viano driven by the male friend. The young woman made her way inside the vehicle, which led to an argument as she was not welcome by the other occupants of the vehicle,” said Mavimbela.
He said reports stated that despite being found unwelcome by the other occupants in the vehicle, the victim found her way inside, which led to more arguments. “It is believed it was at that moment that the suspect produced a handgun and shot the woman in the head fatally before fleeing the scene.”
Mavimbela said police conducted a raid at several places suspected to be possible hideouts for the suspect.
In the end the man had handed himself over at the Sunnyside police station.
The suspect was charged with murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. He will appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court today.
Mavimbela told the Pretoria News the murder came at a time when police were working hard to ensure perpetrators of priority and violent crimes were put behind bars.
“We will continue to prevent fatalities, including those involving women and children in the area.”
Ayepyep management extended its condolences to Ledwaba’s family and friends in a statement posted on Facebook.
“Following an incident of shooting of a lady at Gerhard Moerdyk Street on Saturday or in the early hours of the morning, we understand the perpetrator has been arrested. We are saddened by what has happened and hereby sympathise with the family and friends of the deceased,” the statement read.
A Facebook group called Death Penalty for Criminals in South Africa posted: “To the guys who said buying a woman alcohol in the club gives you the right to decide whether they're coming with you to your place after or not who came up with that rule to begin with?
"She has a right to say no and you have to respect that because you aren’t entitled to control because of your buying power.
“To the girls: you also have to stop depending on men in the clubs to buy you drinks. If you think going out with a couple of friends because you will score free drinks and transport when you get there, the results will be more than what you bargained for.
"Have your own money and transport and stop giving these men power over you, or you’ll find yourselves in very compromising and unfortunate situations.”
Juvilate Tloubatla posted: “All we can do now is just to reminisce.Memories can only live with us forever. We will always miss you RIP.”