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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 13:31 GMT
Botswana floored by passion killings
By Lucas Letlhogile
BBC, Gaborone

Three years after the killing of her daughter Kaone by her fiancÚ, Gladys Ramotlhwa is still in pain.

Kaone Ramotlhwa
Kaone Ramotlhwa was studying in South Africa

Since then, Botswana, which is known as a nation of peace and tolerance, has been experiencing a series of love-related murders, or passion killings, as some people call them.

"My daughter and I were very close friends, we used to joke together," Gladys recalls.

Gladys was hit by the bad news one Friday afternoon as she was preparing to go for an official meeting.

Mrs Ramotlhwa, the current director of the government Meteorological Department, says that she could tell that Kaone had been murdered because of the tone in her relatives' voices.

While they told her that Kaone was very sick she could not believe them, because that same morning she had dropped her off at work where she was on an internship programme.

"She was doing a course at the Cape Technikon in South Africa and she was going back there in July to complete a degree programme in food technology," said the mother as she struggled to compose herself.

Bright prospects

"I was looking forward to see her finish school and sorting out work, and of course starting her own life. It is like building a castle and all of a sudden it collapses in front of you and there is nothing you can do about it."

Gladys Ramotlhwa's story is no different from the stories of many other parents in Botswana whose daughters have been killed by the men they loved.

They are simply murders, brutal acts carried out by jealous lovers seeking revenge for been jilted by ladies
Tummie Letsididi, radio DJ with youth broadcaster Yarona FM

Kaone's killer was her fiancÚ. As Setswana custom and tradition dictate, his family had already been to Gladys's home, asking to marry her daughter.

Local reports speak of more than 70 such killings taking place in Botswana in 2005 alone.

What is clear from police statistics is that the murders have been on the increase, especially in the past three years. People are wondering why.

Power

Elsie Alexander, a sociology lecturer at the University of Botswana believes that there are no easy answers, but she believes it has to do with power.

"This is gender based violence. In all the cases that we have had, the perpetrators have been men and the victims women," she says.

Elsie Alexander
Sociologist Elsie Alexander says traditional structures have collapsed

"When men are told for instance that the relation is over, they resort to violence because they think that their authority has been undermined."

She also cites rapid urbanisation and economic growth that the country has been experiencing in the last 30 years as another possible reason.

"As the country flourishes, traditional structures which used to provide counselling have collapsed and for economic reason people have left their families in the rural areas, which used to cushion them in times of crises.

"And because there are no families to provide counselling, some people end up committing murders because there is not one to talk to."

Anglican Bishop Musonda Trevor Mwamba sees the problem more as a moral and socialisation issue.

"The moment people think of taking someone else's life means that respect for the other person has ceased to exist," Bishop Mwamba says.

"If people are brought up not to respect the sanctity of life and not knowing the value of life, this is the result."

'Simply murders'

Tummie Letsididi, 27, a radio DJ with youth broadcaster Yarona FM, rejects the label "passion killings".

"They are simply murders, brutal acts carried out by jealous lovers seeking revenge for being jilted by ladies," she says.

"Perhaps one way of dealing with them is empowering girls because in many instances girls are killed for allegedly having received lots of money and other valuables from their male lovers.

"And when a girl terminates the relationship, her boyfriend feels cheated, hence the murders", Tummie said in a broadcast.

For some of those emotionally bruised by the killings like Gladys Ramotlhwa, religious faith remains the sole source of hope and strength as justice appears to have failed her.

"It is better to focus on the Lord than on the loss, because forgiveness is the way to deal with the loss."

Kaone's murderer is still walking the streets.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Botswana
03 Nov 05 |  Country profiles


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