Ditshipi breaks silence on the pain of being cyber-bullied

01 Jul 2019

BY MPHO KUHLMANN

Former journalist Tirelo Ditshipi spent most of her adult life writing news. Last week she was the news, and “reading so much filth about me on social media” has turned her world on its head.

The mother of three who was caught in the crossfire of an ugly Facebook spat between Selibe Phikwe Member of Parliament Dithapelo Koorapetse and her partner Philemon Mmeso, a journalist with The patriot on Sunday, broke her silence this week about her harrowing experience: “I don’t want to mince words. I want it to be known that I am utterly disgusted at what transpired on social media on Monday. I can understand that people get angry, I’m an adult and I can get angry myself but I do not go around insulting people. I am angered by the fact that I don’t know how Dithapelo Koorapetse found it okay to first of all invade my space and privacy, lift my pictures from my Facebook page and use them in his sick humour.

I do not know him both on a personal and professional level. It baffles me how a man that regards himself as an honourable family man would do that or even act in that manner. He speaks so highly of his wife and his kids and I couldn’t help but wonder how he would feel if his wife was disrespected in the same manner he deemed okay to do to me. I’m a mother of three and my oldest son can read and understand all that was written about his mother. I do not understand the kind of politician he is trying to be. I could easily be a potential voter in his constituency along with probably 10,000 other women in the country. Is he saying I don’t matter, my vote doesn’t matter? If he can’t seem to respect one woman what about the rest of the other women?”

Tirelo states that since the back and forth squabble between the Member of Parliament and her partner Philemon Mmeso, she hasn’t received an apology from Dithapelo. “I haven’t received an apology from that man and I honestly feel like if he did apologise to me now then it would be too late. I would just think of it as an afterthought because I feel he would have been forced to apologise by his party therefore the apology would be done just to make him look good. I will however say that my partner who was also a part of the squabble that ensued on social media has profusely apologised to me for putting me in that mess in the first place. I feel strongly that if a person is angry then they must direct their anger at the guilty party and not fire shots at people who aren’t involved at all.”

Ditshipi says the incident has affected her badly. “You know, cyber bullying hits you hard when you are in the firing line. I’m not a social media person I can go days without checking it and my life moves on just fine. I just see it as an issue of moral decay in society, we are not tolerant at all and I really can’t blame it on technology I blame it on people. I have always condemned cyber bullying and I am still condemning it now. I’m speaking as a woman, an adult and a mother. What kind of kids do we want to raise when we as adults are the ones behaving in this manner. The whole incident affected me badly, when I finally took it all in I just broke down. I’m hurt and embarrassed and every time someone mentions it, it gets worse all over again. I have a reputation to uphold professionally and personally as a mother.”

The story you are reading today will most likely be tomorrow’s tuck-shop tomato and onions wrapper, but Ditshipi will most likely live with the scars of cyber-bullying for life. A USA based Cyber bullying Research Centre, has found that the dysphonic outcomes of cyber-bullying are different and potentially more than traditional bullying.

“For example, the computer-based messages are more permanent as compared to the verbal statements as they are preserved in websites, internet archives, search engine caches, and user devices; it is easier to make hurtful, embarrassing, or threatening statements on the Internet because of comparative difficulty in detecting and identifying the misbehavior and offending party, proving or verifying the act of wrongdoing, and imposing a meaningful sanction; victimization through the Internet is omnipresent beyond the school, playground, or neighborhood due to the ubiquity of computers and cell phones”, states the research report.

It further emerged from the report that the possible adverse effects of cyber-bullying can be physical, psychological, or in academic and work performance. Higher rates of depression and anxiety are noted among cyber victims along with declining academic or work performance. Victims are also found to be more prone to report headache, stomach ache and various other psychosomatic complaints.

Below is what Batswana on the street had to say about cyber-bullying:

Seipone Makhupe who works at Lion Park Resort says “bullying in general is a terrible thing, but adds anonymity to it and it becomes a nightmare. Cyber bullying is petty, cruel and for cowards. We all know what goes in the internet, stays in the internet forever, so cyber bullying is a very complicated thing to deal with. Most of the time those who are being cyber bullied are embarrassed to seek help, so they just endure it or make the already bad situation worse. So really the only way to “prevent” this (because really there is no preventing bullying) is to keep private matters to you or really close people and don't trust easily. Besides that, there is not much anyone can do about it, unfortunately.

Kagiso Gaboitsewe who works at Cash Crusaders in Gaborone says “bullying and even cyber bullying is everywhere regardless of the grade or age. It is in fundamental schools, middle faculty, excessive schools or even university. Bullies suppose existence might be better if all the human beings they harass could now not be right here. “

Ratanang Kala of Car World Auto Craft Shop says “bullying and cyber bullying are two predominant problems that younger young adults and adults have. These two things are not the same; however they do in fact intersect one another. Lots of humans are committing suicide every 12 months simply because of this problem. It begins online then it can lead to neighbourhoods .Cyber bullying occurs on a number of the common places online. This includes locations like Twitter or Facebook; however it’s additionally commonplace in chats, instant messaging, and emails and on message forums.