Furious at his daughter’s boyfriend for twice impregnating ‘his little girl’ outside the confines of marriage and failing to pay damages, a 72-year-old father is demanding compensation.
Gaetimelwe Thamoku dragged his 30-year-old daughter’s lover, Gofamodimo Ragodu before Maun Customary Court this week demanding P8, 000 damages for the 2017 pregnancy.
Much to the old man’s dismay, as well as the two-year-old boy, Ragodu, 31, and Boineelo Thamoku have since had another child together – a one-year-old boy.
“We have been trying to get this man’s family to pay damages, but they have refused,” Thamoku told the court on Tuesday.
The complainant revealed his family had approached Ragodu’s relatives in April 2019 to report the ‘damages’, but the young man’s family had said they could only manage P500 monthly installments – an offer Thamoku maintained he could not accept.
“I did not agree with such an un-cultural arrangement. ‘Tshenyo’ is not paid as though one is paying a piece of hire-purchase furniture!” he complained.
In Setswana tradition, when a woman falls pregnant out of wedlock, there are firm traditional procedures to adhere to and tshenyo (damage price) tops the list.
It is an ancient custom Thamoku maintains his family strongly uphold.
Speaking to Okavango Voice after the heated court proceedings, Thamoku effectively accused Ragodu of ruining his daughter’s life.
“It is only that some things cannot be told but this boy wrecked my daughter’s marriage and a chance of happiness,” said the elder, who revealed that his daughter was married in United States of America (USA) but was seduced by Ragodu during a return visit to Botswana.
“Now he is unable to support her and the children. As we speak he has another child and he still has not paid the outstanding damage,” grumbled Thamoku in reference to his second grandson.
For his part, the baby daddy said it was difficult for him to make a lump sum payment as he only earns P1, 500 a month, and already pays P500 in maintenance for his first son.
“I promise to do all I can to have paid the P8, 000 by December this year,” conceded Ragodu, who stressed he was not trying to insult his prospective father-in-law.
“I do not want to be seen as disrespecting him. All I was saying is that my finances are very limited. I do not earn much but I will save enough cash to pay the damages by December,” promised the desperate dad, whose youngest son repeatedly tried to get his attention throughout his testimony.
Presiding over the matter, Kgosi Oleo Ledimo ordered Ragodu to have paid off the damage by December, failure of which his property will be auctioned off to recover the amount.
Meanwhile, when asked whether it was still relevant in today’s world for damages to be enforced over a pregnancy between two consenting adults in a relationship, Human Rights attorney, Uyapo Ndadi opined that this particular cultural practice is outdated and oppressive.
“It needs to be revised. The punishment is harsh because it cannot be used as defence in child maintenance court. My view is that this is an unfair practice,” said Ndadi, noting the practice benefits the child’s grandparents and not the child.