Gender Links (Johannesburg)

26 November 2012

South Africa: Always Scared After Rape

I am a 22-year-old woman. On 31 May 2012, I was coming from Levubu to collect money from my mother's younger sister to buy some food. I took a taxi to Zwikwengani. When I got to Vuwani taxi rank there were no taxis. I waited with others until it got dark, around 6pm.

A taxi was going to Tshakhuma so we got into it. When I disembarked at the bus stop, it was around 6:30pm. Before crossing the road there, a taxi from Vuwani going to Thohoyandou stopped and a woman got out of that taxi. I saw two guys next to the taxi and the woman started to run away holding her handbag tightly. When I was about to cross the road I saw those guys coming towardsme saying, "Let's help her to carry her things."

One pulled out a knife and pointed it at my chest while the other man took everything that I was holding and said, "We are not going to any house, we are going to the bush and don't scream otherwise we will stab you and you will die."

I kept quiet because I was scared. They dragged me into the bush and said that they needed money. But I had already thrown it on the ground as we were walking, because I didn't want them to steal it. I gave them my handbag to search., when they found nothing the one man said, "It will be better if I kill her." But the other said to me, "I want to rape you."

He told me to take off my clothes and I refused. I offered to take him back to where I dropped the money or go with them to an ATM to withdraw money from my bank card. One of the guys took the card but the other said to me again, "I want to rape you."

He threatened me, asking, "Do I have to stab you to make you take your clothes off?"

I said, "No" and took off my trousers. He laid me on top of them and then raped me.I begged him, "Don't ejaculate inside of me," and he said, "You don't tell me that! Are you scared of getting pregnant or getting diseases?" and I said, "Yes." Then he said, "It doesn't work."

When he was done, he called the other guy to also rape me. After the second guy was done, he said he was going to the bank and to fetch the cash I'd thrown out at the road. As he left, he said if he couldn't find the money he would kill me and that if I tried to run away he would look for me until he found me. The one who raped me first raped me again. When he was done I asked to please go and relieve myself.

I grabbed my phone and ran. He was angry and chased after me with a knife. When he caught me he slapped me; I kicked him and we started fighting. He beat me on my face and strangled me. He put his knife to my throat and said, "I will kill you, even though it wasn't my first intention." He then grabbed me and took me back to where they had already raped me three times.

The other man returned and said I had no money on my bank card and that I was playing with them and would have to die. The other man agreed and said I had to pay for trying to run away. They then both raped me again one after the other. That means the one who was holding a knife raped me three times and the other one raped me twice which means I was raped five times.

They took my two cell phones, two boxes of eggs, R30 and my jacket but they left me with the juice. They ran away but came back and said, "Tomorrow you must come to Thohoyandou and call one of your phones, we will meet you and give your things back. Come alone." The tall one said, "I love you and I want to marry you." Then they ran off again.

I ran to the nearest house and sent a please-call-me to my mum and her younger sister, who called back. When my mum arrived with the police, I started crying.

The police made me feel bad, asking, "Where were you coming from at night? Were you not aware that it was getting late? Now see what these people have done to you." I tried to explain what had happened but they said I must go to Tshilidzini Hospital trauma centre. My neck was bruised and sore from when they strangled me, and I had bitten my tongue while they beat me. My face was swollen.

When we got there,Nedididi helped me, then a policewoman took my statement and a doctor examined me. They told my Mom to go home, but she refused and said she would sleep there on a chair. I slept at the trauma centre. A victim advocate woke me up in the morning and asked me to take a bath; she treated me very well.

Another police officer arrived to take my statement again, as he was supposed to be investigating the case. The following day the police came to my home because I had heard from other girls that they knew the rapists.

I remember them well. One of them had a dark complexion, short hair and wasn't very tall. I hadn't seen him before. He was wearing a black jacket and colour-faded jeans and sneakers. The other man was tall with a dark complexion and was wearing a black jacket, orange T-shirt and dark trousers and takkies.

I was hurt when the police officer said there was no evidence, that many people can look similar, and even clothes can look the same. When I told them this new bit of evidence, they said I must go and ask around and pretend as if I love the tall guy so that the police can find him. They didn't write anything down. Since then the police have never called me or returned.

After the incident, I became very scared, especially when I think that those guys might come for me at home. I am very scared if I hear a sound in the house, even if its afternoon. At night I would lie in bed awake. I'm scared to attend parties and visit friends or go to the shops in the dark. If I go to town I get scared. I am always alert and looking around and I feel as though I might see the two rapists again.

Even after what happened to me, the father of my child showed his support and love. He didn't want to leave me and he took time off from work to be with me. My family also stood by me and cared for me. I started spending more time at church so that I could take care of my soul. I lost trust in the police because of lack of progress. I still hate most men. I respond to them in anger and also get scared when I see people with similar features to the two men who raped me.

I received counselling at Tshilidzini trauma centre so then I felt freer and stood up as a woman. I also got support when the pastor from my church came to visit and prayed for me. It encouraged me to see that there is still love. Even the ward councillor came to visit me and had time to talk to me. My friends were supportive. I also found a support group where we talk about our experiences of rape. I learned that if somebody comes across a problem we need to help that person, as people have helped me.

*Not her real name.

Prudance Munyai lives in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. This story is part of the "I" Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.

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