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GBV: One life lost is one too many. This must end now, says Mathabatha

Dark clouds hovered over Lephalale police station. Its police officers used service pistols to resolve domestic disputes, shooting and killing their partners before committing suicide instead of seeking professional help.

In what appeared to be domestic violence, Constable, Koketso Jessica Rakganya (34), attached to Lephalale police shot and killed her boyfriend, Panpakhulu Neville Mokgata (34), and injuring her daughter (18) before shooting herself to death on October 9, 2020.

The incident happened at Onverwacht Kloppenheim flats in Laphalale. Mokgata was an employee at Exxaro mine.

“The constable called the police around 9 pm informing her colleagues she just shot her boyfriend in their rented apartment.

Police found Mokgata in a room with multiple gunshot wounds,” said Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo.

Brigadier Mojapelo said Rakganya (pictured above) proceeded to Mokopane, Limpopo, and burned Mokgata’s two-room house where the couple was staying.

“The officer then drove to Mamelodi in Pretoria. Upon arrival, she shot and injured her 18-year-old daughter staying with her mother.

The girl was admitted to hospital in serious condition,” said Brigadier Mojapelo.

Mojapelo said the motive for the incident is unknown at this stage, but police will not rule out the possibility of domestic violence.

He said police are investigating a double murder case and arson.

Ten days later, Constable Rakganya’s male colleague, a 40-year-old police sergeant stationed in the same cop shop shot and killed his wife, Pauline Molekwa (57), with a service pistol before firing the deadly weapon on himself.

Brigadier Mojapelo said police had opened a case of murder and an inquest docket, adding they had confiscated a service pistol and magazines used to carry out the dual killings.

The two occurrences are part of several incidents of gender-based violence (GBV) reported in Limpopo in recent weeks, while others involve police officers.

The gruesome incidents prompted Limpopo Premier, Chupu Mathabatha, to hold a virtual meeting with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to resolve the concerns.

Premier Mathabatha has called on those overwhelmed by problems and challenges to seek professional help, available in public and private facilities, instead of resorting to murder innocent people.

Mathabatha extended his condolences to the families, relatives, and friends of those murdered.

“The provincial government is saddened by the increasing number of people being killed.

I urge family members, relatives, friends, churches, NGOs, traditional leaders, and parishioners to help fight the scourge. We endure the rigors of senseless killings.

Our message is that these killings must stop now. It is our collective responsibility to protect ourselves and help each other during hard times like we do in good times. We repeat One life lost is one too many. This must end now,” said Premier Mathabatha.

In a reply to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question, Police Minister, Bheki Cele, confirmed that police officers at various stations in the province including Makhado Cluster, Mara, Mphephu, Polokwane, Rooiberg, Bolobedu, Modjadjiskloof, Hlogotlou have GBV cases opened against them.

Minister Cele said it is still unclear if these officers are still on active duty despite these charges.

The Minister also revealed that GBV-related crimes nationally reported against the police range from domestic violence, rape, attempted rape, statutory rape, common assault, and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

“It worries that the very people with the authority to protect members of society have become perpetrators of GBV.

This problem is made worse by the recent spate of GBV cases in the province,” said Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (DAWN) chairperson, Desiree Van der Walt.

“Limpopo lost the fight against violence against women. The 2019/20 crime statistics confirm 8,519 cases of crimes against women in the province,” added Van der Walt.

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