Hero mum ignores gaping wounds to rescue daughter from knife-wielding thug
Bleeding heavily, her intestines literally hanging out of her stomach, Tapiwa Tlhabologang scooped her guts back inside her body, hurriedly wrapping the gaping knife wound with a head cloth.
Her pain could wait. Her daughter’s life was in grave danger.
Armed with an axe and a mother’s love, the 42-year-old left the safety of her mud hut, stumbling back into the yard to rescue her flesh and blood, 19-year-old Dineo Tlhabologang.
Badly wounded herself, the teenager was bravely fighting off a knife-wielding intruder, suspected to be her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Peter, 26.
“My intention was to kill him. But immediately after I lifted my small axe, I felt a strange warmth under my stomach. When I looked down I was shocked to see my intestines were out. Quickly I took a doek and tied them in.”
It is Thursday 5 August, almost two weeks since the horror attack that left both woman hospitalized for eight days, fighting for their lives.
Tapiwa is speaking to The Voice from her remote, humble home in Mathangwane Lands, located deep in the bush, some 20km out of Marobela.
It is her sanctuary, but it is also the scene of the crime where mother and daughter came so close to death.
She shuts her eyes, blocking out the gentle winter sun that peaks shyly through a dirty window, as she tries to re-call the chaotic, terrifying events of 23 July.
The bottom part of her stomach swathed in thick bandage, a long, jagged cut circling ominously above her right eye, Tapiwa continues her dramatic narrative.
“It was around 0800 in the morning. Dineo was outside cooking beans when I heard her screaming for help.”
Taking control of the story, Dineo, whose swollen hand is littered with several stitches, tells The Voice her former lover entered the yard without saying a word.
“Peter pulled me by my jersey, slapped me and removed a knife from his pocket. Luckily I am a strong and brave person. Immediately when he lifted the knife to stab me in the heart I blocked it with my hand, as you can see how it was stabbed,” says the tough teen, proudly holding up her shaking hand as if displaying the proceeds of war.
“I tried defeating him as he started stabbing me multiple times on the whole body. I fell down and my mother came running to stop him from killing me,” continues Dineo, her tone remaining light despite the dark, menacing reality of her words.
“My mum pleaded with Peter to leave me alone. Then he attacked her. When she saw Peter would kill her, she took a chair to hit him but it broke and he stabbed her on top of the eye and cut her stomach,” dictates Dineo, looking at her mum with the deepest of respect.
Clearing her throat, apparently more unnerved by talking to a journalist than going face-to-face with a would-be killer, Tapiwa says at first she did not even realise she had been wounded.
“I was frightened for myself and my daughter’s lives. It was only when I went inside the house to get the axe that I felt the pain. I quickly dropped the axe and bandaged my stomach with a doek. When I rushed back to the yard, upon seeing that he cut my stomach, he fled. He later met with someone here in the lands and told them he had accomplished his mission,” states Tapiwa, who winces often as she speaks and is in obvious discomfort, her wounds still raw and tender.
With the adrenaline wearing off and agonizing pain starting to kick in, supporting each other, the two ladies attempted to walk for help.
“But I collapsed and fell down just outside our yard. Fortunately our neighbors heard our screams and came running. They then phoned the police who came to take us to Nyangabgwe hospital where we were stayed for a week. We are lucky to be alive,” she says, taking great comfort from these words.
Despite her bravery, Tapiwa does not consider herself a hero.
“I could not stand by and watch my daughter butchered to death without doing anything,” she concludes simply.
For her part, Dineo says she is clueless as to what could have sparked her ex-boyfriend’s rage.
“We started dating in 2019 October, separated last year and got back together this year February. But we broke up again because he has a girlfriend. Now I am left with scars in the stomach, back, hand from someone I was no longer with,” she laments, lifting her shirt to display a pale, vivid scar that runs the length of her lower back.
Peter was arrested the day after the attack, having fled to his home village of Marobela.
He was arraigned before Francistown Magistrates Court on 27 July, where he was charged with two counts of attempted murder.
He was remanded in custody and is due back in court on 24 August.
“I pray that he is not granted bail because he might come to finish us off,” ends Tapiwa, shifting nervously from her sitting position on a threadbare mattress.