When Malebogo Molefhe’s ex soldier boyfriend shot her eight times from close range in a frenzied attack, death seemed a certainty.
That she lived is nothing short of a miracle. Now almost two years on, the 31-year-old woman who was shot in the neck and back, is prepared to talk openly of her ordeal for the first time.
It has been a long painful road to recovery, and despite still struggling with leg paralysis due to a backbone fracture, she is confident that some day she will walk again.
Talking from her Manyana Village home in the Southern District she said: “It has been a difficult transition from the time of the attack to date, because I had a lot to deal with. It was not only about the injury but also the trauma.
“Each time a door banged or anything crashed to the floor, it sounded like gunfire and I was terrified. I had to deal with so many things at once that at times it was overwhelming.”
Molefhe’s life was put in jeopardy when her ex boyfriend shot her before fatally turning the gun on himself in Gaborone’s Block 9 area in April 2009. Such was the impact of the point blank attack that the bullets that entered her back came out through her chest and fractured her ribs.
One bullet penetrated her body from the left side of her neck and came out through the right rib. Although it missed vital organs in the kidneys, it crushed the spinal cord causing temporary paralysis.
““The doctors had written me off. My parents were told that due to the internal injuries, even if I lived I’d be a cripple for life. That was the medical point of view, but sometimes God sees things differently.
“Here I am, two years on and making tremendous progress towards a full recovery. The doctors are still shocked and I have hope that my legs are going to be strong enough for me to leave my wheelchair behind.”
Talking of the relationship that ended so violently, she said that it was an on and off long distance affair between the two that was strained by infidelity, obsession and lack of trust.
“I do not know the single event that triggered the attack, but he was a troubled man, possessive and obsessed. As a result we parted due to his infidelity, but he wanted to reconcile the relationship as and when he pleased. Even during the time that we were not together, he would want to keep a record of my whereabouts and activities,” she explained.
Speaking about the time of the attack she went on to say: “Earlier that Sunday, I had spoken to him over the phone because he had called and wanted us to talk. We agreed that he should come to Gaborone at the end of his duty. But then to my horror in the early hours of the morning, I was awoken by the sound of gunfire. He did not knock, but just shot down the door.”
She said the man then forced her into his car with a gun pinned to her head.
“I had no idea where he was taking me, but as he was about to drive out of the gate, police and soldiers arrived and he reversed into the yard. That is when he pulled the trigger, but the gun initially failed to go off. As he was examining the weapon, I jumped out of the car and he shot at random as I lay numb on the ground. I was bleeding profusely. When he thought I was dead he shot himself dead.
“I could hear distant movement as the police and soldiers rushed in. The whole time I was struggling to breathe, but that was all I could think of, to just keep breathing, because despite the pain, as long as I could do that, I knew I was still alive. “
She was then rushed to Julia Molefhe clinic where she was immediately transferred to Princess Marina Hospital and eventually to South Africa where she was stabilized over a month long period.
“At the time it was very difficult because then I did not know the impact the bullets had caused to my body. It was a crushing blow emotionally when I was told I would not survive.”
However months later, when her right arm started responding to movement, the revival of hope has made her stronger and more determined each day.
Now she has the use of both arms, and as she coaxes her legs back into action, she looks forward to the miracle of walking again. For Malebogo each day as a celebration of the lease of life God has extended to her.
Meanwhile Malebogo has questions for the BDF: “I want to know what their responsibility is. The government has put up a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund for those involved in road accidents. What about people like us who have been injured and undergone difficulties through the barrel of a BDF gun? It is very painful.”
Her Mother Susan Molefhe, 49, added: “We ask ourselves, how safe are we? The BDF’s mandate is to shield the nation, but instead some of its soldiers have become a menace. Somebody has to account for this kind of behaviour!”
At the time of going to print, BDF spokes Person Colonel Paul Sharp was yet to respond to some of the allegations, but had however contended that the man was not on duty at the time of the incident.
Malebogo’s friends will next weekend (March 19) hold a basketball tournament at the University of Botswana grounds to raise funds for the former player, so she is able to cover some of her medical costs. The tournament will also be used to raise awareness about her plight.
One of her friends Boineelo Mogaga said: “She is the only child who used to take care of her mother. Now that she can’t work they have been left in a difficult financial position, struggling to afford basics including food, utilities and most importantly for Malebogo, physiotherapy sessions to rehabilitate her body.”