Soweto family calls for death penalty after murder of grandmother, grandchildren

As Women’s Month draws to a close, the spate of violence against women and children continues unabated and the latest casualties are a Soweto grandmother and her two grandchildren.

The bodies of Matsie Dhladhla, 58; Tebello Motshele, 10; and Botshelo Motshele, 14, were found in their Protea Glen home in Soweto on Monday. They had been stabbed to death.

Police confirmed that they were looking for Dhladhla’s ex-boyfriend in connection with the killings and said he was on the run.

They have appealed to the public for information.

News24 visited the family’s home on Wednesday and spoke to Dhladhla’s niece, Lerato Mokone, who said the killing hurt the family deeply.

According to Mokone, Dhladhla’s neighbour became suspicious after not seeing her for two days and called her daughter to check if everything was okay. When the daughter arrived on Monday, she discovered the three bodies.

“There was blood all over when their bodies were found,” she said, adding that the gate was locked.

The family had its suspicions about who the culprit was.

“We suspect it was Dhladhla’s lover because the person who did this locked the bodies inside the house and the gate before fleeing. We have learnt that my aunt had told neighbours that she was no longer in love with the suspect.

“The suspect is well-known in the taxi industry and justice needs to be served.”

They added that for justice to be served, the death penalty needed to return.

“Should he be arrested and received a life sentence, his life will continue. He will able to receive a meal, clothes and an opportunity to study in prison. We are calling on the president to bring back the death penalty to assist families of victims to get closure.

“Today, we and our children are no longer safe in this country. We are no longer enjoying this country because of this pandemic called gender-based violence that is winning daily by ending our lives,” said Mokone.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the three victims had injuries to their upper bodies.

“It is suspected that the perpetrator is the ex-boyfriend of the deceased woman and he is on the run,” said Peters.

News24 spoke to Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane at the family’s Soweto home. She had decided to visit the family to offer comfort and support. She grew up in the area herself.

She told News24 that she was alarmed by the escalating rate at which women and children were killed in South Africa.

“It is sad that during the month of August when we are celebrating Women’s Month, we are confronted with the brutality that women and children are facing. It is painful to have a woman and her two young children murdered in this horrifying way, allegedly by someone claiming to have loved her.

“I hope that law enforcement agencies will get the suspect and arrest him [so he can] face what he has done. I think he will give answers to the family and tell them why he did what he did because it is unjustifiable. I don’t know what type of a human being does this to a mother and her children.”

The minister called on society, including all men, to spare the lives of women and children.

“It is scary to all of us when we hear such news daily. It is scary, frightening and it is every woman’s fear. If you are a man, imagine if that is done to your mother and sister? We have been saying enough is enough and it is not [becoming] enough, and it continues.”

She said the fight to end the scourge was not the responsibility of the government alone.

“It is even difficult to police it because it happens behind closed doors. The rate at which women and children are killed in this country is not acceptable.

“We are calling on the police to at least, even if possible, when the victims are buried, that he is brought to book,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

“The suspect is definitely known and somebody is with this wanted person. We are appealing to those who know where he is hiding to think about what the family is going through.

“If you know where he is, please contact the police. There is a woman and children who are dead and there is a family that is grieving. You can’t be quiet when you know where is. Please assist the police and come forward for the family to find closure,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

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Perspective | It’s time we stopped with the phrase “gifted and talented”

By Stephanie Sprenger
@mommyforreal

Last week, I saw two toddlers wearing “Genius” T-shirts. When I saw the first one, I smiled, as I undeniably have a soft spot for ironic baby clothing. But when just hours later the second “genius” came waddling along, it gave me pause. I know these clever shirts proclaiming that our children are “brave like Daddy” or “sassy like Mommy” are just supposed to be funny and cute. Yet I feel slightly troubled by what lies under the surface of our attempts to label our children with myriad superlatives.

The “Genius” one left a distinctly bad taste in my mouth, and after a few days of pondering, I realized why. It was a tiny incarnation of the “gifted and talented” program, which is a concept I’ve been struggling with as a parent.

When I was in 5th grade, I was selected to participate in TAG (yes, talented and gifted), a program that took place during two hours of every Friday afternoon. I recall playing challenging brain games that required teamwork and higher-level questioning, completing independent study projects, on one occasion making a collage about photography (hmmm), and then trotting merrily back to class with my other above-average classmates.

I moved the following year, and was placed in a similar program with a different name: Alpha. Was it, shudder, because we were “alpha students?” It was my first and last meeting. Although I carried straight A’s—aside from my B in P.E.—after a snide comment from one of my fellow Alpha students, I chose never again to participate in a gifted and talented program.

Over the years, I’ve heard it referred to as ULE—Unique Learning Experience—and Exceptional Learners, but where I live now it’s straight up “GT—gifted and talented.” My experience with GT as a parent of non-GT students has been eye-opening.

When my oldest daughter, now 13, was in Montessori preschool, the staff provided a parent meeting where we could ask questions about kindergarten and elementary school options. Hands shot up all around the room: “Tell us more about the GT programs in the district.” “When can we test for GT?” Aside from the occasional inquiry about bilingual education programs, it was pretty much the same: How do we get into the GT program?

My husband and I raised our eyebrows at each other. Who knew that all this time our precocious little darling had been surrounded by entirely gifted students? Over the next few years, acquaintances would ask me when I was getting my daughter tested for GT. “I’m not,” I usually replied simply. The high-pressure program was not something I wanted for my child, who now is a 4.0 honor roll student in middle school. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure she qualified for GT; her grades have much more to do with her personality and determination. But the entire operation left a bad taste in my mouth.

Semantics matter to me, perhaps more than most people. Don’t even get me started on my hang-ups about the word “blessed.” To me, being “gifted and talented” sounds a whole lot like being bestowed with a well, gift, that others were not granted. It’s pretentious, and slightly obnoxious.

However, the value of these programs is undeniable. There are students whose needs are not being met in a one-size-fits-all curriculum: a multitude, and not just the above average variety. It is difficult to comprehend the challenge of teachers who must constantly adapt their learning experience to the diverse group of students they teach. These programs are absolutely essential and provide a much-needed, enriching, stimulating education for the kids who are becoming bored in their classrooms, who are potentially even causing problems because they aren’t being challenged.

The future of New York City’s public gifted and talented programming is now in the spotlight, thanks to the mayor-appointed School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendation that the existing GT programs be replaced by magnet schools. A group of gifted education teachers have instead called for an overhaul and reform of the system instead of elimination, which they hope may affect other GT programs around the country. But perhaps there is more fundamental reform required than altering the selection process and addressing the issues of economic privilege and racial segregation.

Perhaps what we really need to address is what we call these programs and the way parents conceive of them. The pressure behind TAG, including the language we use to describe it, needs to change. So too the frenetic rush to test our kids, not necessarily because we want to accommodate their learning style, but because of the proclamation that they are gifted and talented and therefore destined for a higher purpose, will lead to a breeding ground of stress, anxiety, and self-esteem issues. And what does it do to the kids who are excluded from this elite group?

I often cringe when I hear someone counter the name of these kind of programs with the sentiment that “All kids are gifted and talented in their own way.” Because it sounds so trite—the equivalent of a participation award. And yet. At the risk of revealing myself as a special snowflake kind of person, I do believe all children are gifted and talented. Whether they are athletic, artistic, deeply empathetic, or bold leaders, or simply themselves. Platitudes be damned, they are all gifted and talented in their own way.

It’s time to change the labels of these advanced or specialized learning classrooms to reflect that. Our children are paying attention, and they can absolutely read between the lines. What kind of message do we want to send them?

Stephanie is a writer, mother of two girls, early childhood educator and music therapist, and Executive Producer of Listen To Your Mother Denver and Boulder.

Image: an actual shirt that was given to one of our editor’s children.

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