South Africa: Looking for peace in my heart

South Africa: Looking for peace in my heart

Date: November 26, 2013
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Artwork by Anushka VirahsawmyLimpopo, 25 November: My boyfriend came to stay with my son and I in 2003 after my husband died in 2000. In 2002, I had a second child, a baby girl. At first life was good because my boyfriend cared for us all.

At some point, he changed and became controlling. He wouldn’t allow me to visit family and friends, nor would he allow me to have visitors. If anyone came to the house, he would interrogate me and ask what they wanted. If the visitor was a man, it became a big problem.

It annoyed me having to constantly explain myself to him. I felt that he had no right to interrogate me because it was not his house- it was mine.

The first day he beat me I felt like I was dreaming. It was unreal. When I asked him, “Why are you beating me?” he said that I was too clever and thought I could fool him. Then it got worse, because he started coming home drunk. I could no longer recognise the man I first met and I wondered who he was. I lived in constant fear.

At the time the children were sleeping in the hut we used for cooking because there wasn’t enough space in the house, so I decided that it would be better for us to build another room. My boyfriend refused to let my children move into the new room when it was complete. This pained me because I paid for the house and the building materials.

He always blamed my children whenever something went wrong. He stopped referring to them by their real names and instead called them nasty words. He also threatened to beat my son. My boy started suffering too and was always scared and emotional. The children were no longer performing well at school and started failing. This was all so painful to see.

Luckily, on Fridays my son went to stay with his grandmother so that he would be able to visit his friends over the weekend. When I told my relatives they said, “There’s nothing we can say because you are the one who loved him and brought him into your house. So it’s up to you.”

He began beating me every day. After witnessing this, my neighbours knew what was happening and sometimes came over to ask what was going on. When it happened late at night, they would take my children and give them a place to sleep.

After beating me he would always apologise and promise that it would not happen again. But whenever he got drunk he would forget these promises.

I went to the police several times and it didn’t help. They gave me a protection order but he didn’t abide by it. The police would arrest him, but he would come back home without even having spent a week in prison. This really hurt and frustrated me.

I felt like waking up and killing him while he was sleeping. I remember telling my father that I was going to come up with a plan to punish him, because I was not getting any help from the system. But, of course my father advised me not to.

*Not her real name

Ambali lives in the Limpopo province of South Africa. This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links News Service as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender violence, encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.



0 thoughts on “South Africa: Looking for peace in my heart”

Sara Longwe says:

This a typical example of impunity by police and the family members of the GBV survivor – Women’s movement actions could include reporting the police impunities to the Public Protector for action to make it act according to the penal code law; conscientisation of the communities on their role as peace mediators including citizen arrest of known GBV perpetrators.

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