Women abuse, rape and kidnapping are getting out of hand in South Africa. It is shockingly becoming a norm waking up and expects to read or hear about another story of a victim.
One of the horrific deaths that shocked the country was the one of Karabo Mokoena, the 22-year-old who was brutally murdered by her boyfriend on April 27. Her passing sparked a national outrage. Women were angry. Men were shameful in disbelief.
Soon after the confirmed reports of the part-time business student’s unfortunate passing, the disgusted women vented their anger on social media platform. Various slogans – including Men Are Trash (#MenAreTrash), the hashtag that trended worldwide on Twitter for days – were created in response to the disturbing news.
Although others supported the controversial trending topic, some were in disagreement – particularly those that believe innocent men were unfairly labelled. People’s opinions were divided; however, men and women’s positive spirit to destroy the sickening abuse against women proved that South African citizens can unite.
In a spirit of togetherness, it was encouraging to witness people participating in Not In My Name march – which saw hundreds of men and women marching to the Union Building in Pretoria to create awareness around violence against women and children.
Regrettably, Mokoena might have gone too soon, nonetheless the revelation of the level of abused she suffered in the hands of a man has encouraged other victims of rape, abuse and kidnapping to speak out publicly. I am one of them.
Admittedly – sharing one of my deepest pains was far from my thoughts, but after reading that Mokoena’s ‘body was found in a patch of veld in Bramley, Johannesburg, by a passer-by’ it hits home. It could have been me found raped and brutally murdered in the veld somewhere in Joburg a few months ago.
On 25 February 2017, I was abducted in Johannesburg CBD after I had just withdrawn money from ATM at around 6pm. In less than a minute, two men, aged 30-ish, approached me claiming to be lost and asked for a direction. They spoke in Xitsonga but could also speak Setswana. One had the odour like he had not bathed in a while. I doubt I’ll ever forget that smell.
As I was busy explaining, they suddenly shoved me into an old Honda vehicle and drove off with me. Everything happened so fast and I had no idea where they were driving me to. Being in the car was terrifying but I had to calm down as I was ordered to do so. After driving for about 40 minutes or so, for whatever reason, the driver backed down and left me with the other guy.
This time it was getting late, and I had no idea where I was. He then told me to keep walking, we walked for about 45 minutes. When we were about to approach the end of bushveld, he stopped and peed. That’s when a little voice inside me told me to run. But I said to myself where to because I didn’t know the place. I was so confused.
Immediately after he was done with his number one, he started making some serious threats at knife point. There was a ditch he forced me to get to, ready to undress and rape me, that’s when I realised anything could happen in that very moment. I was close to death. I then begin to plead; I begged him to take everything I had but my life. In distress and disquiet I screamed, “kekopa oseke wampolaya (please don’t kill me)”.
God was with me that day. Little did I know at the other side of that ditch there was a small township known as Emnandini – which forms part Kagiso and falls under Krugersdorp, Johannesburg.
Someone heard my cry for mercy and blew a whistle. It was after 10pm. As the whistle was blown the rapist panicked and took everything I had – money, cell phone, bank cards, etc. – and ran. The whole community came to my rescue. (Apparently that neighbourhood is always alert as two more girls were found dead the previous weeks.) This was the longest night of my life, ever!
I was so lucky. I survived. I could have been raped – or worse: brutally murdered.
For the past few months I have been in the process of healing quietly without involving counsellors, family and friends. What I have also realised is that various articles that boast about percentage drop of rape and murder of women are not accurate. To this day I have never reported the matter, and I believe there are thousands more who suffer in silence like myself.
I know and understand that it is not easy to disclose such incidents. All you want is erase the memory and carry on with life as if nothing happened. Women drown in anger, rage and pain because of shame, sympathy, and the interrogation that comes with speaking about it.
Thereafter we get controlled by fear. I for one get really scared when it gets dark, I don’t want to walk alone nor be in the same room as males. I have developed a condition known as agoraphobia – a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause one to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
This leads to various medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress, frequent panic attacks and drug abuse – meaning, lives and careers are at risk.
In honour of Mokoena, I plugged up the courage to share my story. I hope more women do the same.
RIP Karabo Mokoena.