Manning up

Kabelo Dipholo
UNITED AGAINST GBV: Maphephu and Rakops royals

An initiative by Letlhakane police led by their Station Commander, Michael Maphephu, is bearing positive results in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

Speaking to The Voice this week, Maphephu admitted they noticed there was a gap in their efforts to fight GBV and crimes committed against minors.

“We realised that this was made to look like it was a police and government battle. An important stakeholder was left out: that’s when we decided to form Men Sector committees comprising all royals in the village,” he explained, adding the drive took off in earnest in February.

The superintendent revealed they even involved the royals’ spouses, who also have their own committees fighting on the frontlines.

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“GBV happens in these people’s backyards, they’re the right people to respond to it and be the eyes of the police and community,” insisted Maphephu.

The top cop explained they met with the village leaders to highlight the red flags and GBV signs to look out. The leadership then took the message to the common folk.

After successfully selling the idea in Letlhakane, the boys in blue have since spread to other surrounding villages, including Mokubilo and Khwee.

The same concept has also been embraced in Rakops, a village that has become synonymous with missing persons, who usually turn up dead.

Maphephu said village chiefs, headmen of arbitration and their spouses are key to the fight against GBV and crime.

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“They command a lot of respect and are close to the people than a lot us,” reasoned Maphephu.

He revealed they have been receiving invitations from other villages in Boteti keen to launch their own Men Sector Committees to combat GBV.

Boteti, especially Letlhakane, has in the past recorded alarming statistics of rape and defilement.

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In 2020, the village recorded 106 cases of rape and 27 defilement cases of girls under the age of 18.

According to Maphephu, there has been a significant decrease in statistics since the collaboration with community leaders.

“However, we’ll continue to register high numbers of rape and defilement cases. We believe this is due to the education we share with the community. People are now woke, and know where to get help,” he said.

“There are wards here in Letlhakane notorious for stories of rape and defilement which never found their way to the office. Since we began our engagement with our royals and other stakeholders, we’ve received reports; people are coming forward to report cases, some as old as six years,” continued Maphephu.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Recently, they received a caravan from government where they deal exclusively with children’s issues.

“A lot more needs to be done, but so far there has been a mind-shift. We receive tip-offs from other men when they notice suspicious behaviour. This is what we want, a community that polices itself,” concluded Maphephu.

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