‘My abusive husband was sober but insecure’


. . . Jobo’s advocacy brings her fame, takes her places


MASERU – Maculu ‘Manyeliso Jobo stands as a prime example of someone who has survived gender-based violence (GBV) and lived to share her story. This heroine has learned to recount her traumatic experiences with both grace and tear-filled eyes. The 10 years she spent married, from 1994 to 2004, left her with scars and physical ailments—lasting reminders of the abuse she endured.

“My ex-husband was not a drinker, but his abusive behaviour was fueled by rumours about my actions, fed to him by others; he was inherently insecure,” Jobo explains. She acknowledges that the violence was apparent from the beginning of her marriage, yet she chose to endure and hide it.

“Each time he beat me, I left him, only to return after some time. This is why I am wary of secretive women—I fear they might end up like me,” she expresses. Her experiences of abuse seem almost cinematic. Her ex-husband, a police officer, should have known better. Yet he exploited his authority to torment her.

“That man tormented me. I remember once at the Masianokeng River, he would dunk my head under the water until I struggled, then pull me up to accuse me of infidelity. I would lie just to appease his suspicions,” Jobo recalls. Her two sons were witnesses to their mother’s suffering and were taken from her at a tender age. It has been over 18 years since she last saw them.

“I uplift women who find themselves in similar situations. God looks after children; mine would have died long ago if not for Him,” she says. Despite her attempts to reconnect with her children via Facebook, they informed her that their father harboured hatred towards her and did not want any communication between them, leading her to cease further contact. She even missed the opportunity to see them when they returned to the country for their father’s wedding.

Jobo vividly describes another harrowing incident: “Once, he shoved me naked into the trunk of his car and drove me to Ha Makhalanyane, accusing me of having a lover there. When we arrived, I pointed out a random house, which turned out to belong to a widow—this infuriated him even more.”

The search continued through about five houses, with continuous beatings when no lover was found. Eventually, the local community noticed her plight and assisted her to a police station, where her ex-husband refused to claim the handcuffs identified as his. Despite this ordeal, she returned to him, a common pattern among many victims of abuse.

In Jobo’s view, many women stay in abusive relationships for the sake of their children or the assets they have accumulated with their partners, a decision she now regrets. She emphasises that financial dependence on men often leaves women vulnerable to GBV. “You can leave and start anew; it is possible,” she asserts. The brutal assault in 2004 was a turning point for Jobo, who was found nearly lifeless by residents near a dumpsite.

This incident, combined with her responsibility to fend for her children alone, strengthened her resolve. “When I woke up in Queen П Hospital, I decided once and for all to leave that man,” she recalls. She did not attend her divorce proceedings or press charges against her ex-husband, prioritising her children’s welfare, instead. She left the marriage with nothing, having lost even her clothing to his wrath.

Jobo’s personal saga has transformed her into a symbol of resilience and a motivational speaker widely recognised, especially in South Africa. Her journey began humbly with a group of women in Ladybrand and grew as she was invited to speak at various women’s conferences across the country, often in church settings. Bookings for Jobo are full until September, as she dedicates her life to combating gender-based violence (GBV) and building a supportive community for countless women.

“I will fight against gender-based violence until my last breath,” Jobo declares, committed to her lifelong mission. Lesotho has alarmingly high rates of sexual and gender-based violence. The World Population Review 2022 reports that 86% of Basotho women have experienced GBV in their lifetime.

Additionally, Lesotho ranks third globally for the highest instances of rape per capita and sixth for the highest murder rates, surpassing some countries at war, as noted by the United Nations Newsletter. In the first six months of 2022, Lesotho’s Child and Gender Protection Unit (CGPU) logged 45 reports of physical assaults and 184 reports of sexual assaults involving female victims. Jobo’s personal struggle with GBV was impacted by the fact that her husband was a police officer.

Despite this, Inspector ‘Malechato ‘Molaoa of CGPU explains: “When a GBV victim decides not to press charges, the police cannot proceed with the case.” Although the incident involving Jobo occurred in 2004, significant legal advancements have been made since then. Notable legislation includes the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act 2006, the Penal Code Act 2010, and the recent Counter Domestic Violence Act of 2023.

’Mantolo Mapheleba, a social worker from A Future Without Violence Organisation, says that their association has never experienced a GBV victim withdrawing a case. She highlights the challenges faced by women in reporting their intimate partners, particularly when they are financially dependent on them. The organisation not only informs victims about their legal options but also provides counselling and emotional support.

Plans are underway to establish a skills centre to equip victims of violence with the abilities needed to become independent. The age range of the victims supported by the organisation spans from as young as 13-year-olds who have experienced sexual assault to individuals up to 40 years old dealing with the trauma of past abuse. “There is no formula for dealing with GBV, but help is available. We can only assist those victims who are open to receiving support,” says Mapheleba.

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