TRIBAL CHIEFS LAUNCH ‘DIKGOSI DI XADILE’
With teenage pregnancies in both Maun and Ngamiland District on the rise, tribal leaders in the tourist town have vowed to take a stand against the defilement of underage girls.
The leaders warned defilers such cases will no longer be treated as internal family matters.
Instead they will refer incidents to social workers, who in turn will report perpetrators to the police for prosecution.
Highlighting the extent of the problem, Kgosi Prince Shashe of Shashe ward said, “In my ward we have 10 to 13 year olds who are mothers. Some of them were preyed upon by married men, but their cases were dealt with at home because the men would have promised to care for them and the baby.”
Kgosi Shashe noted that due to poverty, which he admitted is rampant in his ward, desperate parents agree to keep silent so they can benefit financially from the ‘wrong doing’, albeit out of ignorance of the law.
“Some times parents just blame the child for allowing herself to get pregnant and they are not even aware that the older man has in fact committed a crime. And those that are aware reason that if the man goes to prison, there will be no one to support both the young mother and the baby,” continued the chief.
He added that as tribal leaders they intend to visit local schools and hold talks with both boys and girls on matters of sexuality, behaviour and rights.
Another leader, Kgosi Elizabeth Sekeseke of Wenela ward noted that the issue of teenage pregnancy goes beyond poverty.
She cited a recent example involving a teenager who had done well in her Junior Secondary School examinations and was set to proceed to Gantsi Senior Secondary School.
“The girl fell pregnant and said a local nurse was responsible for the pregnancy. When the nurse was called, he did not deny having unprotected carnal knowledge of the girl but demanded DNA tests as he accused her of having slept with many other men. ‘We took turns with her,’ that is what he said!” seethed Sekeseke.
“These issues are more complicated than we may think. That is why we need to go to schools and engage our children in these matters. Maybe then we may reduce the numbers of pregnancies and save the future of our girls. They are the mothers of the next generation therefore good morals have to be instilled now if we are to bring about change and a better tomorrow,” she stressed.
In the last quarter of 2019, Maun accounted for 74 of the 102 teenage pregnancies recorded in the district.
It is against this backdrop that dikgosi came together under one roof at The Village Church to map a way forward.
At the end of the workshop, organised by a local non-government organisation, Queen Esther, they formed a campaign team #Dikgosi di xadile to lead the initiative.
With the motto ‘Chencha M’nyana’ they will soon be visiting schools in and around Maun to start the talks.
“As you have heard from the previous report, most of the pregnancies occur during school holidays, so the gap is at home. That is why we are engaging the community and the leaders to step in and help our children,” stated Queen Esther’s director, Vehae Tjiriange, adding some children have stated they learn sexual activities from home.
“They have witnessed ‘live porn’ when parents are doing it at night when they think the children are sleeping. Sharing a room with children in our area is very common. Additionally, some have stated that they have seen the sex moves from parents’ mobile phones and television hence it is important to guide our children especially the girl child to be more responsible about their bodies. They should know that poverty is a passing phase and that education is what will liberate them hence the need to invest their time in getting the best education!”