South Africa

Family of woman allegedly shot dead by boyfriend say they failed her

Pretoria - The family of a Limpopo woman who was shot dead – allegedly by her boyfriend – have blamed themselves for her death, saying they ignored her warnings and pleas for help.

They said before Tshepo Rakoma was sprayed with bullets in the parking lot of a shopping centre in Polokwane last week, she had pleaded for their intervention. Warning that the father of her three children was baying for her blood over her decision to end the relationship, she told them that the suspect was stalking her.

The 32-year-old bank employee was killed while sitting in her car during her lunch break, sparking a public outcry and bringing into the spotlight the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.

Yesterday, Rakoma’s sister, Tebogo, and her aunt, Aletta Lephalala, said the deceased had given them several warnings, days before she was brutally murdered, that her life was in danger – because her taxi-driver boyfriend of eight years had become increasingly abusive. The suspect, 34, was arrested at the scene on charges of murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm, Limpopo police said. This was after he climbed on top of the roof of the parking lot and threatened to commit suicide.

According to the family, the accused’s stalking tendencies began when Rakoma left him because of his violent nature. They said she told them that the suspect had turned against her after they started experiencing financial difficulties, which forced them to move back into a room in her mother’s house, in Seshego.

The couple had been living together for eight years and had three children, the family said. Things went from bad to worse after the suspect failed to keep up with the monthly repayments on his taxi due to Covid-19-related restrictions on load capacity. “Tshepo warned us less than a day before that that animal would kill her,” Lephalala said.

It is alleged that Rakoma had locked herself in the car when the suspect shot her five times, including in the head. The young mother’s bullet-riddled body was found in the driver’s seat of her car.

Tebogo Rakoma said more warnings came from the deceased’s eldest child, 9, who raised concerns that the suspect would kill her after Rakoma threw him out of her mother’s house. “We failed her. We could have stopped this if we had reacted sooner,” Tebogo said.

She said that Rakoma’s 63-year-old mother was not coping with the loss of her daughter, and would be receiving counselling. Lephalala claimed that the suspect nearly strangled Rakoma to death in February after he suspected that she was seeing someone else.

The family also disputed a police statement that Rakoma was in her car with a third person who fled the scene during the shootout.

Chairperson of NGO Women Taking Back Safety, Thalamsindo Raputu, said: “We believe that this guy was stalking Tshepo and ended up killing her. Now he is in prison getting breakfast, lunch and supper when Tshepo is lying dead.”

Pretoria News

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