AN 84-year-old Leribe woman is finally free from several years of the sexual and emotional abuse she was subjected to by her grandson who died last week in police custody.
The Ministry of Social Development’s Elderly Service Office recently revealed that for a long time the octogenarian, ‘Mannoi Maanela, of Ha- Jeremia in the Leribe district, bottled the secret of her abuse at the hands of her late grandson Tankiso Maanela (21).
Ms Maanela revealed that Tankiso used to rape her repeatedly and burned house after accusing her of bewitching him.
Tankiso died in police custody last Thursday after being severely assaulted by some members of the Ha-Jeremiah community for burning his grandmother’s house the day before that. The community executed mob justice before handing him over to the police.
The Ministry of Social Development Elderly Services Officer for the Leribe district, Maleloko Thato Sakoane recently told the Sunday Express that Ms Maanela recounted to them how she was subjected to a cycle of sexual, emotional and physical abuse by the late Tankiso.
Ms Sakoane said Ms Maanela had kept the dark secret to herself for fear of being the talk of the village and being stigmatised.
“Apart from that she said it’s a taboo for older people to speak about sex so she was not free to speak about it,” Ms Sakoane said.
Ms Sakoane said even though Ms Maanela wanted to break free, she did not how to seek help as she felt it was very embarrassing to speak about her situation.
“Ms Maanela said her grandson often demanded sex from her and he treated her like his wife and she would give in as he used to threaten and insult her
“She said as much as she was not happy about her grandson’s death she was finally free and would be able concentrate on more important issues in her life. She said she hopes the situation would change for the better now that no one will ever abuse her,” Ms Sakoane said.
Ms Sakoane said Tankiso burned her grandmother’s house in a fit of anger after she had expelled him from the house the previous day.
Ms Sakoane said some of the villagers were aware of the Tankiso’s behaviour but they had been reluctant to report the matter to the police as they did not have proof especially when Ms Maanela was also mum about the issue.
“They said sometimes Tankiso would disclose to his friends that he had sex with his grandmother,” Ms Sakoane said, adding the fire incident incensed the villagers who assaulted him before handing him to the police.
“We have offered her psychosocial support after learning of her experiences and she also needs emotional counseling which we have already arranged.
“She is still vulnerable and she cannot be stay alone. She will temporarily stay with her other grandchildren while we arrange that she is adopted into one of the elderly persons’ homes,” Ms Sakoane said.
She said the Ms Maanela’s ordeal happened at a time when her ministry was holding campaigns against the killings and abuse of elderly people around the country.
“We intend to hold a public gathering in Leribe but that will be when they have cooled down over the recent incident,” she said.