Free State premier calls for Mangaung residents to unite against GBV

Simphiwe Macdonald Masithela (39) at Bloemfontein magistrates court for alleged murder of girlfriend. Photo: Kekeletso Mosebetsi.

The new Free State premier has called on residents of Bloemfontein, Thaba Nchu, and Botshabelo to rally against gender-based violence (GBV) in large numbers.

Maqueen Letsoha Mathae made this appeal while attending the court case of Simphiwe Macdonald Masithela (39) in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday morning (2/7). Masithela is accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend, Bongiwe Phulamba (35). He was arrested after the incident was reported to the Kopanong Police Station on Sunday.

Mathae emphasised the government and the ruling party should adopt the same mobilisation strategies used during election campaigns to combat GBV. She led scores of men’s organisations, leaders, and church members in a picket outside the court, demanding that GBV perpetrators be denied bail.

‘If communities are not involved, we will never deal with this matter’

Mathae stressed that churches should prioritise addressing GBV issues and speaking directly to men about these challenges. She suggested that, similar to election canvassing, GBV awareness, and education should be conducted ward by ward, involving the same volunteers who were active during elections.

“Police are at work, but if communities are not involved, if communities are not part of this campaign, we will never, ever, ever deal with this matter. Yes, the president declared this a pandemic, but that pandemic must be stopped by our communities.

“If you can see all these recent cases, it’s people who were lovers in these relationships, and that is so sad. So, we are here, and we have invited churches, and I am happy that they are here, the government is here, all my MECs,” Mathae said.

Pastor Morris Sekhutleleng, also present at the court, emphasised the need for churches to break their silence on GBV.

“We are here to say let this killing of women stop, and we are going to run programs to invent peace pursuants as creation of God,” said Sekhutleleng.

Also present at court were church leaders and members taking a stand against GBV. Photo: Kekeletso Mosebetsi.

Meanwhile Magistrate David Tlati postponed the case against Masithela to Tuesday (97), after his defence lawyer requested more time to gather outstanding bail information, a request to which the prosecutor did not object.

In another GBV case, Stephen Songezo (42) is expected in court tomorrow for allegedly driving over and killing his girlfriend, Mpho Moalosi, a Tsoseletso High School teacher, on Dewersdorp Road.

Men and women picketing outside Bloemfontein magistrates court. Photo: Kekeletso Mosebetsi.

Scores of residents from Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo, and Bloemfontein, along with various organisations and church members, are expected to participate in a march against GBV. The march will begin at 09:00 at Hoffman Square in the CBD and proceed to the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, where participants will picket tomorrow.

OFM News / Kekeletso Mosebetsi