Staying strong in the midst of a storm

Date: November 23, 2012
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I, *Kgotlelelo Khune, am 41yrs old and married into the *Moletji family. I bore two sons. I am from Phalaborwa ga-Makhushane Maune Village. I have been married since 1990 and my marriage has been filled with problems and no love for a very long time. My husband always had affairs with different women and did not give me any love. I have never known peace in my marriage.

In 2009, people started saying that the reason why my husband was having affairs with other women was because I am a witch. My husband soon joined the bandwagon and also started calling me a witch.

He became very abusive and would call me a witch in the presence of family members and people from the community.
In 2010 my husband had an affair with our neighbour. She fell pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl.

My husband spent most of his time drinking alcohol and he would verbally abusive me in front of my children. He would say,”Re tla bolaya, rha sechaba re tla bolaya Moloi” meaning, “I will kill you and the community will kill you, because you are a witch.”

My in-laws never liked me so they also started to accuse me of witchcraft. Nobody wanted to hear my side. They said that I had “bewitched” my husband, brought him a lot of misery and did not give him any love. I became very scared.

Some community members started calling me names and accused me of bewitching other people in the community, causing them to fall sick.

I am well educated and they said that I was a witch who hid behind her education.

Life became difficult for my children and I. I received threats that I was going to be burnt and killed for practicing witchcraft.

It became unbearable and atthe end of 2010, I went to the Magistrate’s Court to seek a protection order. While I was afraid ofmy husband and my community, I did not want to leave him.

I got the protection order and hoped to find some peace. However, things got worse.

My husband demanded that I be naked when cooking for him. He would call the children to come and watch a naked witch cooking in the kitchen. At times he would refuse to eat the food saying that he cannot eat food that has been cooked by a witch. I was hurt.

I became isolated and felt humiliated. I knew I had to leave my husband, as I did not know what else was going to happen to me. My own kids started treating me badly.

One day I came home from work and the house was empty. I heard people outside and they started throwing stones at my house. I became very scared and heard one of my neighbours talking to the people who were throwing stones at my house. They then left but said they would be back to burn my house.

Earlier that day, my husband had taken my children to stay with my in-laws. Having escaped being injured or killed by angry community members,I went to stay with my family in the next village.

My family encouraged me to go back to my husband even after what almost happened to me. To date, my husband never apologised to me about what happened. I am deeply hurt.

I thank God for the promotion I got at work. I am always busy at work and do not have time to think about my past and the witchcraft accusations.

I am also working at an orphanage that helps women and children and keeps them out of the streets. Some people in the community are still labelling me a witch.

I am going to stay strong and will encourage other women to also stay strong and trust in God all the time.

*Not her real name.

*Kgotlelelo Khune 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.

0 thoughts on “Staying strong in the midst of a storm”

Toekie Kgabo says:

It is very heartbreaking to read a story like this one. Families dont understand what women go through and then forces them to go back to the same monster just because they are ashamed of a divorcee. This kills many women. They dont know where to turn to cause our own families are ashamed of the so called ” Return Soldier”

I am deeply touched

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