If only my mother could see I am a changed man

Date: December 8, 2010
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I grew up in the high density areas. I could safely say that my behaviour was influenced by the life I was exposed to, especially by people I used to hang around with. I came from a loving single parent family and my mother did her best. However, my criminal activities turned me into an abusive person. I became a stranger to my community and my family because I was abusive towards them.

In the early 80s I paid lobola for a woman I loved. I treated her like my property that I had bought. I didn’t allow her to visit her family. I remember one day we were arguing that and I ended up beating her so much that she was hospitalised. After her release from the hospital she went back to her family where she was accepted. She decided that she did not want to see me again. I wrote her letters and phoned her begging her to forgive me and come back home and promised her that I would never hit her again. I even asked her friend to talk to her for me. Eventually she agreed and came back home, I tried so hard to change and welcomed her home with gifts.

When she returned home things were fine for two to three weeks. After this I turned back into that abusive husband. It got worse; I would beat her for allegedly taking a long time at the shops and even for talking to our neighbours. Basically I beat her up for petty reasons. She became so afraid of me because she knew that I had a gun and I was a criminal.

I started to bring my girlfriend into our house and we would share the bed and sometimes make my wife sleep on the floor. I was really abusing my ex-wife emotionally and physically. When she complained, I would tell her that I paid lobola and the girls were to relieve her from having sex with me. While I was doing all these bad things her family and my family were not happy but they could not do anything as they were also afraid of me. I remember my mother said: “What you are doing makes me sad” and she said she was even scared to go around the streets, because of the community. She only went out when she was going to church.

I thought I had all the power I needed to control everyone around me. I remember one day we stole a car that was carrying disabled people. We pointed a gun to the driver and let the disabled people out of the car. I did not care about anyone’s life; if I wanted to take car away I would steal it at any cost.

Money was never an issue for me because I used a gun to control people so that I could get the money I wanted from them. With all the money I had, I felt the world was in the palm of my hands. The abuse went on until my wife became pregnant. When she told me, I was happy and excited to be a father. I stopped beating her; I guess it changed me somehow. Until one day when I came home. I heard people arguing, it was so noisy. I could hear it from the gate.

When I got into the house, it was my wife and my sister arguing. I tried to sit them down and understand what was wrong and make peace between the two. My wife said she was moving out of the house, because of my sister. We fought and I lost my temper and started beating her until she miscarried. Blood was all over the house, I still regret that day. I do not know what got into me. I took her to the hospital and she was admitted. Days after that incident I was arrested for house-breaking. I was sentenced to five years. But it did not end there; I was still doing wrong in prison.

I would steal other people’s belongings after their family visited. I became jealous because my family wasn’t visiting me, so I stole their belongings. Even my wife turned her back on me. Well, I do not blame her. I had hurt her in so many ways. I guess she felt safer away from me.

I wish I could turn back time. Abuse is never a good thing, especially towards a woman. When I look at my life and the all the things I have done I am not proud of them. However there is no reason to hold on to the past as life must go on. I feel that what is important is that I am still alive and I must appreciate that and learn from my mistakes. I should forgive myself in order for the community and all the people I have hurt to forgive me.

As I write it is all coming back now, imagine if I was the one being abused like this? In my mind I thought beating your wife made you a good, respected man. That is not true. I have done wrong to so many people. I do not blame anyone who has not forgiven me. I suppose the time I’ve spent in prison made me look at life in a different way. I have grown as a person. I am now living a clean and healthy life. Out of all the things I have done, I wish my mother was still alive and she could see that I am a changed man. I did so many wrong things to her in spite of all her efforts as a single parent who wanted the best for me.

This article is part of a special series on the 16 Days of Activism for the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that offers fresh views on everyday news. For more information on the 16 Days Campaign go to www.genderlinks.org.za



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