Serare village hikers in bid to educate community about GBV 

Serare village hikers in bid to educate community about GBV 

As the government and civil society continue to seek solutions to gender-based violence (GBV), communities are also doing their part to fight the scourge.

The Bakgaga Mountain Hiking Organisation this weekend held an event, calling for an end to abuse in Serare Village, Bokgaga, Tzaneen in Limpopo. 

One of the organisers, Frank Makau (37), said his community doesn’t have knowledge about GBV.  “We hosted this event to make our people aware of this abuse that is happening everyday in our community. I wanna thank all the local business people who helped us to make this event a reality. I can’t mention their names because I will forget others.” 

Community leader, Nelson Moagi (56), who is also a Ward 33 Ward Committee member, said he came to give support. “I normally work with people. We always encounter this GBV because it happens in the community”, said the community leader who is also a local politician.

The event kicked off at 05:00 am with a 15km Fun Walk that began and ended at the famous Silverstone Ground. 

After the walk, a formal programme was held at the ground, with guest speakers sharing some words of wisdom and guidance with the community. 

Former Ward 33 Councillor Dimakatso Maake (44) urged community members to take what was said at the event seriously. “We must take what was said here to our homes to start living positively. We must stop this evil deed (abuse) in our community”, said the man who is still a community leader.

The Maake Tribal Authority was represented by the revered young royal blood, Sepeke Maake. He also called on the community to take everything they learned to heart.

“People of Bokgaga know that the Bakgaga Mountain Hiking organised this event for you. This organisation is here to help us. We will support you guys because you develop our community,” said the traditional leader addressing the masses.   

Salva Maake, who was representing the Serare Village Headman, said she was very happy that people had come to her village to be part of the event. “Let’s all celebrate. You kids must celebrate more but don’t go to liquor stores”, said the spectacled traditional leader.  

 Amongst the guest speakers was an energetic young woman from Serare Village, Lerato Manyobele. Manyobele is a community leader at Community Responsiveness Programme (CRP). She said she was sent by her organisation to come and address the community regarding the abuse of men, women and children. “We started by deploying our members to go around the community of Bokgaga to make people aware of the abuse.” 

The Department of Education was represented by Ma’am Esther Maake, who is also a concerned community member. Ma’am Maake thanked organisers for putting together the event to highlight abuse, saying although men feel superior to women, they (men) must not abuse them. 

She also touched on the abuse of men and children, saying: “Let’s stop the abuse. Our elders are raped and killed. Women are always chased away by their husbands and later return. Let’s build a future community. Let’s fit in the civilised community.”

Selma Khumalo, a nurse at Yingisani School for the Hearing and Speech children at Letaba, also took to the podium. She urged the community not to hide children with disabilities. She says there are 34 special schools in Limpopo. 

“I deal with children who use sign language to communicate. I take care of these children because they need special care, hence their schools are next to hospitals. Don’t hide your disabled people because that’s abuse”, said the outspoken health worker. 

Ritavi Magistrate Court, Dolly Tsekelele, taught the community about different types of abuse, which include emotional and financial abuse. He also informed the residents about the Child Justice System. “Children under 18 who are offenders aren’t taken to court to face the magistrate. They must be counselled by social workers who will determine what next steps to take to get the lives of those young offenders back.”

Tsekelele also urged men not to force their partners to have sex with them, as sex without consent is a criminal offence. He concluded by advising young people to go to school so that they can improve the lives of their families. 

Another organiser, Nkele Moagi, said the event was awesome and she really enjoyed every moment of it.

“I just wanna thank our team for their tasks to make our event a huge success. Myself, Emmanuel Rabutla and City Maake were responsible for entertainment. Frank Makau, Jack Maake, Foster Maake, Modibe Rakgoale and Letlodi Sebela were responsible for donations to the municipality and local businesses. Mr Maenetja and Mapatla Rakgoale organised the toilets, tents and electricity while Lerato Manyobele organised the Guest Speakers. I thank them all”, said the young and anti-abuse activist. 

Local artists and dancers kept residents on their feet. Groups like Dikakapa and the Limpopo Teens entertained the masses who braved the rain to be counted among the great.  

Soccer games were also part of the fun activities. Naphuno Masters and Bokgaga Masters flaunted their skills on the soccer pitch – with Naphuno beating 5-2.

“With a strong team you can go far in life”

“With a strong team you can go far in life”

While deep rural community members are used to long walks due to the lack of basic resources in their neighbourhoods, fun walks are almost unheard of.  However, young people are rewriting the narrative and are exposing their communities to activities that are largely associated with townships and suburbs. 

Floyd “Madiba” Sekhwela is one such young person. He founded the Tlhabine Fun Walk, which was launched on the 31st of October 2020. The village’s young and old came out in their numbers to participate.

The 27km walk began at Limpopo’s Rakoma Village in Tlhabine, went through Lenyenye, Moime, Khujwana and went back to Tlhabine. It kicked off at around 06:00 o’clock in the morning and ended more than four hours later. 

Some participants told Local Voices that they were walking for fun as well to fight chronic illnesses such as sugar diabetes and high blood pressure. They spotted colourful T-shirts written Tlhabine Fun Walk, with the event’s motto “Promoting Healthy Lifestyle” written at the back. 

Villagers from Lenyenye, Tickyline, Moime and Bokgaga also joined in the fun. While some gave up along the way, 67-year-old Daniel “Super” Rakomana was one of those who walked from the beginning until the end. 

“I am very happy that I joined this walk at the last minute, actually I was not aware that there was an event here at home,” Rakomana, who is popularly known as “Super” from his heydays as a soccer star, told Local Voices.
“I feel like I can go back again. Walks like this one will help us the elders to keep fit because we are no longer that active”, added the jubilant former soccer star.

Rufus Motlhape (49) is part of the Johnny Walkers Club from Lenyenye. He said he felt honoured to be part of Tlhabine Fun Walk. “I personally would like to thank the organisers of the event for the extended invitation to be part of this historic event. Under this difficult time of lockdown, the organisers pulled a successful and incident-free event”, said Motlhape who is also the Superintendent of Greater Tzaneen Municipality Traffic Department and a former Lenyenye Commodores FC star. He saluted everyone who was involved in the event and said he was looking forward to the next one.

Kamogelo “Kamo” Tjodola (9) was the youngest of the walkers. He says he wants to start being active in the sports just like his father, Jordan Tjodola, who is one of the organisers. 

“I was informed by my father that there would be a fun walk that he was involved in. I then told him that I wanted to be part of it, that’s why I am here today’, said Tjodola junior. 

His father said the event was a success and they were very fortunate to have people coming from far and near. 

“We thank the Almighty for making things run smoothly, since we did not encounter any incident or problem. It was a day filled with fun and most importantly it was a day that has proved that with a strong team you can go far in life.” 

Tjodola says the event was a learning curve for him since he realised that his son is actually into sports and he should support him. “Thanks to the event we are now a changed community that is always looking for greener pastures,” concluded the man known for his acrobatic saves while in goals for local club, Mmaphala FC.

The founder of the walk, 21-year-old Floyd Sekhwela said he never thought the event would be as “awesome as it was”.

He thanked his team for pulling together to make the event a success and added: “Not forgetting the efforts of the sponsors because if it was not for them the event would not be that awesome as I mentioned above.” 

Sekhwela also thanked everyone who took part in the event. “I would like to thank these people, Shane Mahlo, Jordan Tjodola, Sammy Letsoalo, Masilo Shokane, Bruce Ramogale, Rufus Motlhape and Meneer Mashiane as they supported me from day one when I introduced my idea to them,” continued the very shy-but, active young man known by the iconic name, Madiba.

“They did not discourage me, they were always giving me hope that the event would be a success. I can not forget my family who supported me all the way. They even cooked for the people who were participating so that they could not go home on an empty stomach.”

The Tlhabine Fun Walk was sponsored by local companies – Matome Wa Monareng Security and Projects, Malete Bricks, Wisani Burial Society, Premjee, Selby Construction and  Carine.