30 November 2012

South Africa: Community No Longer Safe Haven for Me

I, Mary Mangena lived in Masoma Village with my family. The village is quite small and people know each other very well. In 2010, the village experienced many deaths and the community pointed fingers at my family. They accused us of witchcraft.

The community said that we would also be killed. At first I was not moved by these threats. However, the threats worsened and the community started to mistreat us. We were made to feel like people who did not belong to that community.

I will never forget the 17th of August 2010 when the community finally decided to attack my family and I. They came in a big group and started shouting and chanting outside my house. They asked me to come out, shouting "e tswa moloi, naase re nyaka go bolaya" which means, "Come out you witches, we are here to kill you."

We were scared to even look outside. They lit the house but we managed escape through the back. We lost everything in the fire.

We ran to Maake Police Station where Mr Letswalo questioned us. We gave our statement and were then accommodated at the Victim Empowerment Centre. We stayed at the Centre for four days.

Two weeks later my parents died from old age. I called some of my family members to a meeting to seek clarification whether my parents were witches. They did not have answers to my questions.

I was so convinced that my parents were witches and that is why the community suspected me to be one. It is believed that witchcraft is passed on from one person to the next in the same family. The community believed that the gift of witchcraft had been passed on to me.

In the meantime, Mr Letswalo is helping us to get back our lives and we have relocated to Julesburg Village, as we were no longer safe in Masoma Village. We are not welcome in Masoma and this makes me very sad because I miss my home very much.

May be one day I will go back to my community and may be one day my family will be also be allowed to stay in that village again.

*Not her real name.

Mangena 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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