By Thoriso Ramakarane

  • As Youth Month commemorates the sacrifices of the 1976 generation, the Free State is shaken by the brutal killings of two women by their partners.
  • These incidents have sparked widespread outrage, leading to public protests and calls for harsher penalties for perpetrators of gender-based violence.
  • Community members and officials are united in their support for the victims’ families and in demanding justice for the senseless acts.

Amid June’s Youth Month celebrations, a period that honours the sacrifices of the youth of 1976 who died for freedom and liberation, the Free State mourns the heinous killings of two women by their lovers.

The gruesome murder of dedicated high school teacher Judith Mpho Moalasi, a 41-year-old mother of two, and 35-year-old Bongiwe Phumbala, sent shockwaves throughout the province. Mpho was murdered on 16 June by her boyfriend. Her brother reported Mpho missing to the police after numerous attempts to contact her or obtain information on her whereabouts.

Mpho had worked at Tsoseletso Secondary School since 2020. Her colleagues described her as a hardworking, committed, and dedicated teacher, passionate about the advancement of her students. Her death has been described as a significant loss to the educational fraternity and society at large.

Reports indicate that the suspect drove over Mpho’s body repeatedly and abandoned her near G4S Mangaung prison. As the community reeled from this tragedy, news of the second victim, Bongiwe, emerged. Bongiwe was stabbed to death by her boyfriend, who later turned himself in to the police on 23 June.

In response to these horrific incidents, women from various organisations joined Premier Ma Queen Letsoha in a march to oppose bail for both suspects. They voiced their frustration, asking, “What has gone wrong with our streets?” and pleaded for the safety, protection, and support of women. Participants, including MEC for Free State Public Works Dibolelo Mance and MEC for Police Roads and Transport Jabu Mbalula, declared that women’s bodies should not be at crime scenes and that women have the right to live without fear.

Political parties united against these atrocities, calling on the judiciary to impose harsh penalties on perpetrators of gender-based violence and murder.

Both suspects appeared in court on 26 June, but the cases were postponed to 2 July 2024 (McDonald Masithela) and 3 July 2024 (Songezo Steven Sejakane).

Today, on 27 June, community members held a memorial service for Mpho at Tsoseletso Secondary School. The community has promised to mobilise necessary support for the victims’ families during these tough times, remaining united in their quest for justice and safety.

“Senzeni as women? What went wrong?” the community asks, as they seek answers and solutions to prevent further tragedies.


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