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Teenage pregnancies shoot up in eastern Free State

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Staff Reporter

Elizabeth Ross Hospital in the eastern Free State town of QwaQwa reported 469 deliveries by girls aged 14 to 19 years old between April 2020 and March this year, the provincial health department said.

And from April this year to mid-June, the same hospital reported 109 deliveries by girls within the ages of 15 to 19 years.

The Free State Department of Health recently revealed the statistics in QwaQwa during a campaign aimed at discouraging teenage pregnancies particularly by those still in school under the theme ‘Responsibilities of the Young Mother Project’.

“The purpose of this project is to discourage schoolgirls from being sexually active at an early age, without using protection,” said provincial health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi.

He said failure to use reproductive health methods by some youths often leads to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.

In one of the activities of the ‘Responsibilities of the Young Mother Project’, the females simulate scenarios where a young girl is expected to take care of dolls – symbolising the responsibility of nursing or taking care of a baby – while the same girl needs to do school work including preparing for examinations.

The project, which targets girls between 14 and 19 years of age, is set to be rolled out to all districts in the province.

It has however been disrupted several times by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among its objectives, the project wants to: establish contributory factors to teenage pregnancy from both boys and girls; establish the factors contributing to early sexual practices; and educate the youth on the benefits of education and delayed sexual engagements.

It also wants to address the barriers to accessing contraceptives or youth services at health facilities.

But the health department is prohibited by the Basic Education Policies to educate school learners on the use of condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Lumka Mangoejane, the provincial director for Women’s Health, Youth, Adolescents and Neonatal Services, told The Free Stater that information to empower sexually active learners is quite limited in schools.

“The department of education should advocate for the use of these services in the school environment,” she said.

“They should also engage parents because, as the department of health, we are in a position to provide some of the services without parental consent.”

“However, the department of health has to ensure that we increase the number youth friendly services in our healthcare facilities so that the learners have access to these services whenever they need them outside school hours,” added Mangoejane.

The spokesperson for the Free State Department of Education, Howard Ndaba, acknowledged that the department closely monitors what learners are taught in school.

He was however quick to point out they are in constant collaborations with the health department on various issues and that working together on agreed topics on reproductive health shouldn’t be a challenge.

Youth advisory platform bwisehealth.com warns that sex can be fun but it can also be confusing or even scary.

The organisation advises that the decision to have sex is a very personal one, and that if one doesn’t feel ready for it, there is no need to rush.

It gives four reasons why waiting before having sex could be helpful to the youths, namely:

  • It gives you time to explore and understand your body on your own and to learn what you like and don’t like. 
  • It gives you time to decide what sex means to you and what you want from a sexual relationship once you’re ready.
  • It gives you time to become more self-confident. When you do decide to have sex, you are able to tell your partner what you like and don’t, and talk about protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It means you don’t have to worry about things like HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies. If you’re not sure you’re ready to deal with using contraception and HIV/STI prevention, it may be better to delay having sex for now.

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Municipal manager facing tender fraud charges granted bail

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THE ACCUSED . . . Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha is out on bail

Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha, 49, was on Friday released on a bail of R500 000 by the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrates Court after he was arrested by The Hawks for fraud, corruption and Contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The state alleges that he allegedly awarded a contract of R58 million to Kill Crime Security Company in 2020 without following proper procurement processes.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said Mothamaha allegedly signed a service level agreement on May 19, 2020, appointing the company to render security services to the municipality for a period of three months without following procurement processes.

“The municipality continued to pay Kill Crime Security Company for almost two years without a contract,” said Shuping.

He said Mothamaha was supposed to appear with his co-accused, father and daughter who are the owners of Kill Crime Security, Thabiso, 55, and Dimakatso Sekhosana, 29, on Monday after they were instructed by The Hawks to hand themselves over on Sunday, but he failed to do so.

The Sekhosanas appeared on Monday facing similar charges and were released on bail of R150 000 each.

Part of Mothamaha’s bail conditions are that he must not enter the offices of the municipality, not interfere with the investigations nor intimidate witnesses.

The case was postponed to September 30 for further investigations. – Staff Reporter

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Six nabbed for alleged theft of network batteries

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NABBED . . .  The six men believed to have stolen network batteries and damaged critical infrastructure

 Six men were due to appear in the Marquard Magistrates Court on Friday after being found in possession of eight network batteries believed to have been stolen.

Police spokesperson for the eastern Free State, Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring, said the suspects were arrested following a joint effort by members of the SA Police Service, private security and farmers.

He said police received information from the community at about 3am last Wednesday saying some unknown men were digging up network boxes and cutting copper inside a manhole.

“The police activated and mobilised other members and arrested the first suspect who is a foreign national near a filling station while sitting inside a vehicle,” said Mophiring.

The man was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property after eight network power box batteries were found in his possession and failed to properly account for them.

While pursuing the matter with the help of some farmers, the police received information at about 8am that some five men were trying to hitch-hike near a certain farm to Senekal.

“The team quickly responded and arrested the three suspects who were successfully linked to the initially arrested suspect. Two other suspects managed to escape but were chased and arrested near a farm going to Senekal. Four of the six suspects are Illegal immigrants and two are South Africans,” he explained.

The six are aged between 23 and 30 years of age.

They are facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act, possession of suspected stolen property and damage of infrastructure.

Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane applauded the community and the team for the prompt arrests and urged them to “continue working together to fight crime”.

Meanwhile, three suspected armed robbers were sniffed out of their hideout in Thaba Nchu near Serwalo on Thursday morning following a petrol station robbery.

Police spokesperson in Mangaung, Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli, said in a separate statement four armed robbers arrived at the petrol garage just after midnight on Wednesday and threatened the security guard with a firearm before tying him up with wire and fleeing the scene with a undisclosed amount of cash and cans of motor vehicle oil.

The suspects demanded keys from the guard and gained access to the back offices.

And while others were busy helping themselves to the oil cans and cigarettes, others were busy grinding the safe to access the money inside.

The four then left the security guard with his hands and feet tightly fastened with a wire.

The guard was only rescued by staff starting duty at 5am.

The matter was reported to the police and a case of armed robbery was opened at Thaba Nchu Police Station and a manhunt was launched.

Luck ran out for three of the suspects aged between 38 and 40 after they were traced and found near Serwalo in Thaba Nchu at about 2am on Thursday and were arrested.

They were found with an undisclosed amount of money suspected to have been stolen during the robbery.

One suspect remains at large.

The three were due to appear in the Thaba Nchu Magistrates Court on Friday for business robbery. – Staff Reporter

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Garden scissor attacker nabbed

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THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

A 64-year-old man has been arrested after stabbing one person in the stomach with a broken garden scissor and injuring the victim’s family while holding them hostage.

Police say they were called to a place in Verkeerdevlei on Wednesday evening where a person had been stabbed in the stomach.

Upon arrival, they found a 53-year-old man who had been stabbed in the stomach with the broken scissor.

The suspect had already fled the scene.

“The victim was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” said Captain Stephen Thakeng in a brief statement.

Further investigations revealed that the same suspect went to the house of the victim’s 36-year-old daughter house where he held her and her two children – aged 13 and 15 – hostage.

“Tactical Response Team (TRT) members from Park Road were activated at about 21:30 and it was realised that the suspect was holding (the family) hostage in a three-roomed shack,” said Thakeng.

“The TRT members gained entry into the shack and rescued the three from the suspect.

“The three victims were also stabbed with the same half part of the big scissor.”

The suspect is facing a charge of attempted murder and three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He will appear in the Verkeerdevlei Magistrates Court soon.

THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

Meanwhile, a man believed to be terrorising tuckshop owners around Bothaville was arrested on Wednesday following a tip-off by community members.

Police say they received information about a man with a firearm and who might be involved in robberies of tuck shops of foreign nationals at about 16:30.

The suspect’s house in Kgotsong was identified and members of Bothaville Crime Prevention approached it and asked for permission to search the place.

They were granted permission and a 9mm pistol was found and a 27-year-old man from Potchefstroom was arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The suspect will appear in the Bothaville Magistrates Court soon. – Staff Reporter

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