19 February 2020

Morija, Lesotho

This is a true story. It all started in 2018 at Thabeng High School, when I saw a new girl. She was short, beautiful and brown in complexion. She was a cool, quiet and generous girl. She liked people as much as they liked her. She took good care of herself and always looked good. Her name was Nthabiseng.

At school, she would sometimes walk alone. I remember one day when we were in agriculture class, laughing and talking together. We weren’t close friends, but she would ask me for help when she didn’t feel like working.

Because she was cool and calm, I would go and assist her.

I helped her twice in her agriculture projects—in constructing, cultivating and levelling her plot. Then she would give me ten maloti (approximately USD 1) to thank me.

Days, weeks and months passed. One day I felt something abnormal, something adverse inside me. It was in the late afternoon, when the mountains were silhouettes. I was doing my schoolwork at home.

Later, I took my phone to check my WhatsApp. I replied to my friend’s messages, then I went to view their statuses.

I noticed one classmate’s status. It was something about Nthabiseng, but I didn't read it, I just passed to the next one. Then I saw another classmate’s status, also posting about Nthabiseng. The photo here was different from the first one. There were crying emojis and I could feel my classmate’s anguish.

I didn't text her or ask her what was wrong. I just put my phone aside and continued with my studies.

On Friday morning, when I arrived at school, I found a few classmates sitting together in the classroom, not moving, their faces looking depressed. I still didn't ask them what was wrong. I sat down to read.

More classmates arrived. Some girls were crying and others were trying to comfort them. I asked myself: ''What's going on here?''

I went to this girl who was sitting alone and asked her what was wrong. She took some time to look at me and answer me. Her eyes were filled with sadness.

She said, “'Nthabiseng o ile a betoa a ba a bolaoa ke setlokotsebe sa moshanyana, o ne a theoa setopong ho ea hae, ke moo a ileng a feletsa bophelo ba hae teng.” [Nthabiseng was raped and killed by a lunatic of a boy. She had just gotten off from the bus stop heading home, that’s where she was raped and killed.”]

She wept a lot, and subsequently the other girls in the room wept too.

I couldn’t believe what she had just told me. I couldn’t believe that a stranger would do something like that to my quiet and innocent classmate.

I was astounded to hear about Nthabiseng’s death. I will always remember her voice, her smile and when we were laughing together. May her soul rest in peace.

I still feel a lot of pain every time I think about Nthabiseng.

As men in Lesotho, we need to talk to each other and come together to stop violence against women and girls. Men need to treat all women as if they are their sisters, mothers and grandmothers—with care and respect. We need to change something, so that all women can feel safe in this country.