ANOTHER SURVIVOR COMES OUT!
All the loud and joyful trumpets accompanied by exultation ceremonies that wake us up every year when August 9th arrives could easily be read as a depiction of women’s victory.
You switch on the radio to hear hosts celebrating women power, you open your window to find a flyer next to your door step inviting you to a Women’s Day Event and you talk to men to hear their complaining conspiratorial whispers about the power granted to women nowadays.
What more could these women want?
“I want that man to be stopped at what he is doing,” says Pamela Mthembu.
Seated on a two-seater couch, playing with a couch pillow and facing the end-of-a-day’s exhausted sunshine that pecks through the door and lights up her extremely dark-skinned arms, Pamela is hysterically reciting a very familiar story that continues to haunt South African women’s freedom.
This is the dreaded fact that we do not want to hear as we go about our lives; that women born in South Africa have more chance of being raped than being able to read.
“To me it’s gone but not for good, generally it will never go away since there are still paedophiles and sex offenders out there”
Pamela, 21 years old, says she was 15 years old in 2006 when she was coming back from school (Kwa-magxaki High School) and was walking alone through a small bush in-between Kwa-magxaki and Kwa-Dwesi in Port Elizabeth. The walk through the bush was a short cut; her usual route home; a road that she knew very well.
Jokingly, she even says she could be able to walk through that road with her eyes closed. “I noticed that there was a man approaching my way, but I thought nothing of it until he came and stood in front of me,” she says.
She describes him as an average man who looked as though he was in his early 20s wearing blue jeans, a white top and a white hat.
“But in no less than a few seconds, he turned back, violently slapped me on the face once, punched me twice, and then told me to undress myself” Scared to move as the man picked up a rock, she was forced to take off her school uniform button to button.
“I was totally naked, and then he just unzipped his jeans and forced himself on me,” she says. “He didn’t speak nor look at me, he just did it.”
“He did it repeatedly, maybe three to four times, after that he told me to look aside and the next thing I knew he was gone. I could not believe I had just been raped”
Uncontrollably crying and in pain, she had to walk all the way home and when she arrived, her parents were at work. It was her two sisters and two friends who asked her why she was crying and called for help. She was taken to Dora Nginza Hospital, in Zwide, Port Elizabeth, where she tested for HIV and pregnancy, both which were negative.
Although the tests were negative, a young girl was left with an incurable wound that would always be part of her past. “One of the things that I still find difficult to accept even today is the fact that I was a virgin before I was raped. It is very hard to have lost it to someone I did not even love,” she says.
The question in the end is, has any justice been done to ease the pain of this woman and her family? She says they never found him because there was no evidence, “I think they couldn’t find a sperm or something” she casually says. She then speaks about the trauma of having to relive that moment, “I don’t want to go back there again, all I can do is get back my power and move on with my life although I want him to be found.”
Yet, out of the deepest parts of her memory, she will always remember the event when the young girl within her was tormented, her virginity taken against her own free will just to satisfy a man’s selfish needy moment. This is a reality that continues to contradict the joyful trumpets we recently heard early this month, because somewhere across the walls of that civilization joy is a desperate cry by another woman we have not yet heard.
Perhaps the motherland must rethink its name or really make this continent the motherland.