[Warning: Graphic Content] Families of Gender Based Violence victims say there can never be enough retribution for perpetrators

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Some families of Gender Based Violence victims say there can never be enough retribution in South Africa for perpetrators who brutally kill innocent people especially women in heinous crimes.

They have criticised the South African justice system saying it focuses more on empowering criminals than families of victims who are often left to suffer alone emotionally, psychologically, and financially after losing their breadwinners.

Iris Mohokare, affectionately called Maje by her family, was born in 1975 in the small village of Moroto near Thabanchu in the Free State. She was described as a generous person.

At the age of 25, she became a nurse. A few years later, she relocation to Schweizer Reneke, where her life was cut short in a GBV crime.  Recent crime statistics indicate that between April and June this year, one-thousand-one hundred women and children were killed in South Africa, with at least 12 to 13 victims, being killed daily.

To Mohokare’s family, Iris is now, one of the statistics. We tell the story of Iris’s life through the eyes, of her younger brother, Teboho Mohokare, who drew much inspiration from his late sister.

Tebogo Mohokare, brother of the deceased says, “This incident left us with a pain. Actually, it’s trauma for the family because she was a lovely sister. She was a pillar of strength to my mom and us as a family.”

The brutalised body of the deceased has traumatised the family.

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“When I went to a state mortuary, I found that she went through pain because she fought a fight that she never won. When I checked her body, it was very painful for me because her neck was slit, and her hand was cut. She was also tied with a rope on her hand. Her face was swollen to show that she was assaulted even before she was murdered. It was really a trauma because we never thought that this kind of thing can happen to one of our family members,” he added.

The deceased, leaves behind three children, aged fifteen, fourteen and seven, to whom she was the sole breadwinner.  Mohokare says they did not reveal the true horror, of how she died, to her children.

“We didn’t tell them that she was murdered. We just said it’s an accident. If we say it’s murder, it’s going to traumatise them,” Mohokare concluded.

The SABC also spoke to the Mpempe family, which rented a backroom to the deceased, for 16 years.  Just a stone’s throw away is the home of her alleged killer, 24 year old, Bongani Shebi, who was allegedly well known to the deceased.

A local NGO which fights substance abuse and GBV incidents, Imologa Community Project, says substance abuse is one of the root causes of violent crimes in the area.

Its founder is Tebogo Oliphant says, “We know that this boy has been very notorious. We know that he has several cases within the community. We know exactly as the organisation and we have a list of those guys who have already profiled, and he is a user and abuser of substance.”

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But accused’s family gave a different description of his character.

“The biggest question was how and why. He is not walking around with any weapon and he is a very quiet person. The boy will never hurt anyone. We only know this part of him,” said the accused’s uncle Shimmy Shebi.

Although the NPA in the North West says further investigations are being conducted, the Mohokare family has no confidence, in the justice system.

“They will arrest them. They will go to court and find them guilty and sentence them, but still they are going to live in harmony wherever they go because when you go to correctional services, you will see that those people a living luxury. They are given everything. They are even lesson on starting businesses and all those things. But people who are struggling outside are not given such opportunities. There’s no justice in South Africa unless if we ourselves think of revenge. But that’s not how we are,” said Mohokare.

Members of the community are expected to demonstrate outside court to oppose bail being granted against the accused.

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