‘If I didn’t talk, I would be dead.’
Siyanda*, 33, and her son of 18 months
“I’ve been here for four months. The father of my baby was always beating me and I had to run away,” she says.
Siyanda thought her new boyfriend was a “a good person” until she moved in with him.
“He didn’t want me to go out, to leave the flat at all. Not even to go to the shops to buy bread,” she says, crying silently. She was pregnant, and had nowhere to go. “He used to hit me, and bite me. I tried to fight back. Twice neighbours called the police. They said we must sort out our problems, then they took a bribe from him and left.
“I am not a talkative person but one day I met the neighbour and she said he had another girlfriend who he had also hit. Her body was damaged. She died. “I wanted to take my baby and go away. “I don’t know why he had this background of hitting women. But I was not going to be like the other lady. They said she died because she was bleeding internally.”
She waited for a Friday, saying she was going to visit her sister in Tembisa.
She arrived at Bethany Home and was taken in. “I came to look for a place to sleep for the night. I was welcomed.”
Siyanda is preparing the meal of the day for the ladies: rice and canned pilchards.
“I feel better for myself and my baby. He is at crèche. I am helping in the kitchen now but I am going to study and find work. I am still heartsore. For now, I don’t even want to look at men.
“I wish women who are hurt would talk to other people. If we don’t talk, people will die.”