There is a tremor in her voice as she talks about the man who sexually abused her two daughters and her disgust that he did not get a heavier jail sentence.
“There is no justice in Botswana. And there is no closure but I live in hope that one day we will find it,” said the mother who even now can’t explain how the abuse had gone on for so long without her knowledge.
“This man has destroyed our lives and will leave a scar in my heart forever,” she said as tears stood in her eyes.
Then as her anger resurfaces she adds, “What message is our justice system sending out to rapists? Force innocent, defenceless and unsuspecting young girls into sexual intercourse at such a tender age and you only get a slap on the wrist.”
The 48-year-old man she refers to as her ‘customary husband’ worked locally as a security guard in Mathangwane village and was known to a strict disciplinarian. But it is hard for her to come to terms with the reality that her husband of close to a decade had turned to his stepdaughters for sexual gratification.
The elder girl, who was born in 1994, fell prey to her stepfather in 2004 at the age of ten. Her younger sister, who was born two years later, fell victim in 2006 also at the age of ten.
The girls’ mother related how she trusted and loved the abuser with all her heart and had no idea she was living and sharing a bed with a ‘snake.’
She believed him to be a man of integrity, who wanted to raise her stepdaughters in a respectable manner to become well-grounded young women.
She related how he rebuked his stepdaughters for allowing boys to visit them at home. None of their male schoolmates could come near her homestead because they feared the stepdad, who would not hesitate to threaten them with a beating.
All the time she thought the man was just protecting his children from the potential disaster of being impregnated while still at school. Little did she know that the man was actually jealous of the boys.
Continuing her story she went on to say, “I thought I was woman enough. To the best of my knowledge I was doing my duties as a woman perfectly.”
The horror of what had been going on was only discovered when the girls’ brother, who had been working in Francistown, came home on a visit.
He arrived home on a Saturday morning and found some of his siblings playing at the neighbour’s yard.
Taking up the story he related how he had asked his elder sister about the whereabouts of their mother and was told that she had gone to a funeral at Nata, while his stepfather was inside with the younger sister.
He went straight into the house. When he was about to enter his mother’s bedroom he met his stepfather at the door wearing only his underpants. Inside he could see his sister covering her naked body with a towel. She was crying. “She could not say anything because she was afraid of our stepfather. I then learnt the whole story from my other sister and reported the matter to our mother,” he said.
The stepfather was later charged and the two sisters taken into care for their protection whilst he awaited trial. It was to be another three years before the case came to court last week.
A neighbour described the man as dangerous. She said, “Everybody in the neighbourhood feared him. None of us could gather courage to report him although we have long suspected him of abusing children. He would not hesitate to tell a person he would kill them if they came to his house,” she said.