June 15, 2024

On the picture play's scene, a drunk Motebebjane standing on a chair while holding beer bottles moments after beating up his wife on his right side while lashing out on his son, who's on his left side. Photo cred: Polokwane Observer

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By Ottis Malatji

Hundreds of theatregoers were treated to a comic play when it premiered at the Library Gardens Auditorium in Polokwane on December 2 2022. Beyond Disability SA raised awareness about gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) by granting free access to the show.

The play revolves around a character, Steve Mashiyane who is an alcoholic, an abusive father and husband, portrayed by Thatale Klass Motebebjane (45), a seasonal Skeem-Saamactor. Mashiyane blames and beats his wife whenever he is drunk, which is almost every day, because their son was born with a disability.

He later regrets his life’s bad decisions and attempts to take his life when his wife and son leave him. Everyone who is abusive needs to be locked up in jail, said Motebebjane, reflecting on the character he portrays in the play.

The education about disability that the play relayed stood out most for one audience member, Shika Tlouane (27). The use of appropriate language when dealing with disability-related issues is the main takeaway lesson for Tlouane, who reiterated the calls for women to stop protecting GBVF perpetrators stating, “Women should stand up for themselves, and they should learn to put themselves and their children as a priority.

The play’s co-directors and writers, Solomon Ramauka aka DJ Bambo, a disability inclusion rights activist who is quadriplegic, and Roelf Matlala, told ThisAbility that the storyline is based on true stories experienced by people with disabilities daily. Getting people with disabilities to carry out the play’s roles was the most challenging thing the main director, Matlala had to deal with.

The pandemic of violence against women remains high in South Africa, as reported by the Daily Maverick. Beyond Disability SA is keen to spread the word through theatre, using creative means to drive home the message against this. The organisation deals primarily with disabled people’s issues related to the creative sector and strives for disabled people to be involved equally with others in the mainstream media space.

The play is set to tour around Limpopo in 2023, as the crew is keen to denounce GBVF.

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