Mother relives daughter's murder, 23 years later

A mother is still coming to terms with her daughter's murder decades later
A mother is still coming to terms with her daughter's murder decades later
Image: 123RF/ Markus Schnessl

For the remaining families of femicide victims, emerging on the other side of the havoc that this violent act wreaks is a hard, debilitating slog.

Sifting through the ashes, they speak of self-blame about their perceived failure to prevent it, why they did not recognise the signs which in retrospect seem abundantly clear, and even questioning whether the family should have allowed her to get married in the first place.

That was Violet Matshelo's experience. Her daughter Malebogo, better known as Blondie, a 20-year-old mother of an 11-month old boy, was murdered by her husband 23 years ago in her mother's house. She has moments where she feels like she failed because she could not keep her daughter safe.

The husband, Martin Tawana, took his life moments after shooting Malebogo.

Matshelo, 63, remembers that day, March 3 1995, vividly. She arrived home from work to find carnage, traumatised neighbours who wouldn't meet her eye, first responders, and her first-born sprawled in her bedroom with multiple gunshot wounds to her body.

She still sobs as though it happened yesterday.

Taking care of and raising her grandson, Gosego, now 24 years old, in addition to her two remaining children, has anchored her life, but she has never sought counselling, despite taking her grandson to a therapist throughout his childhood. "My journey has been one of agony. But I've had support from my family, and the power of prayer has brought me to this point, but sometimes I don't know how I survived.

"Although there were things that I now recognise as signs, you never think that it will happen until one day you find your child dead in your house," Matshelo said.

Although she believes God has a purpose for her life, she admits she sinks into darkness on certain dates. "The date of her death and my grandson's birthday are really hard - she was buried on his one-year birthday."

Bringing the mother he never knew to life for her grandson, who does not even remember his mother's voice, is heartbreaking. So is seeing these incidents become entrenched, even for a small community like Pampierstad in Northern Cape.

As for the bitter sweet experience of watching all the women who were her daughter's contemporaries grow and flourish, she has long stopped asking herself, "why my daughter?

"[But] whose daughter should it have been?"

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