Help­less and liv­ing in fear

CityPress - - News - ATHANDIWE SABA athandiwe.saba@city­press.co.za

Her hus­band beat her son into a coma af­ter he tried to pro­tect her, and he died two weeks later. And af­ter 28 years of an abu­sive mar­riage, Martha ap­plied for a pro­tec­tion or­der at the Le­na­sia Mag­is­trates’ Court. But she didn’t get one.

“The ap­pli­ca­tion was dis­missed for rea­sons un­known to me. [My hus­band] did not take the ap­pli­ca­tion for a pro­tec­tion or­der se­ri­ously and said it was mean­ing­less to him.”

In her court pa­pers, she states how her hus­band burnt her with boil­ing wa­ter in 2005, and how in 2008 he broke her wrists.

“The abuse I have suf­fered over a long time … has made me anx­ious, de­pressed and at times sui­ci­dal. I feel like I am pow­er­less to pre­vent it,” she says.

In a coun­selling ses­sion in 2012, which she at­tended with a black eye, she told coun­sel­lors that her hus­band had been abus­ing her ver­bally, phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally and eco­nom­i­cally.

“Dur­ing the coun­selling ses­sion, it was ob­served that the client was con­fused, hurt, an­gry, hope­less and pow­er­less,” reads a re­port at­tached to the af­fi­davit.

The re­port rec­om­mended that she be granted a pro­tec­tion or­der be­cause she was a vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. How­ever, she can­not get one be­cause she is mar­ried in com­mu­nity of prop­erty and po­lice are re­luc­tant to evict her hus­band from their shared home be­cause of the Preven­tion of Il­le­gal Evic­tion from and Un­law­ful Oc­cu­pa­tion of Land Act, which of­ten con­flicts with the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Act.

After her court bid failed, Martha had to go back home, only to find her clothes thrown out­side. Her hus­band forced her to sleep on a thin mat­tress through­out the win­ter and then evicted her.

When she ap­proached lawyers for help, he al­legedly told her he would kill her.

Nh­lanhla*

In Diep­kloof last year, just af­ter 7pm, an ar­gu­ment broke out be­tween Nh­lanhla and her hus­band of 13 years. In court pa­pers she tells of how her hus­band ac­cused her of be­ing un­faith­ful, and this was not the first time.

“He grabbed my cell­phone and sent text mes­sages to ev­ery­one with a male name on my con­tact list … [He] started yelling at me and telling me be­cause I am a work­ing woman, I work with a lot of men [and] that I am un­faith­ful and cheat­ing,” she said in her state­ment.

Nh­lanhla was preg­nant with their sec­ond child at the time.

“He also sug­gested that our son is not his bi­o­log­i­cal child and that he is a prod­uct of an af­fair.”

The abuse con­tin­ued for hours in front of their son. When her hus­band told her she needed to re­sign and she re­fused, he beat and stran­gled her.

She tried to free her­self and grabbed a piece of bro­ken glass, and stabbed him with it. She also threw a ket­tle of boil­ing wa­ter at his face.

“I feared that if I did not act first, [he] would at­tack me and kill me,” her state­ment reads.

When the po­lice ar­rived, Nh­lanhla was ar­rested and charged with as­sault. One week later, her hus­band was granted a pro­tec­tion or­der against her – forc­ing her to find a new place to stay, and fend for her young child and un­born baby.

Swazi*

He threw acid on Swazi, burn­ing her face, neck, chest and wrists. He was found guilty of at­tempted mur­der in 2013, but af­ter serv­ing six months of his sen­tence, the de­part­ment of cor­rec­tional ser­vices is ready to re­lease him.

Swazi says in her state­ment how her hus­band ar­gued with her one night for fil­ing for a pro­tec­tion or­der against him.

He al­legedly asked her to burn it and when she re­fused, he wrote on the or­der that he would kill her, and then he burnt it him­self.

He al­legedly told her that she would never leave him and asked if she knew that there were many things he could use to kill her.

The next morn­ing, Swazi woke up to get ready for work. Her hus­band then poured acid into a cup and told her he wanted to drink it and that they would die to­gether.

She re­fused and later man­aged to es­cape the house and run to her neigh­bours.

But when he found her there, he tossed the cup of acid into her face. As she screamed for help, he ran back to their house and tried to burn it down.

Ac­cord­ing to her lawyer’s let­ters to cor­rec­tional ser­vices, the man is a re­peat of­fender who was con­victed of rape in 1991 be­fore he met Swazi, but was re­leased early.

In 2009, he was con­victed of as­sault but was given a R2 000 fine, sus­pended for three years.

Just af­ter that pe­riod had lapsed, he tried to kill her. Now he is set for re­lease again.

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