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 anti-abuse 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