‘If I didn’t talk, I would be dead.’

Sunday Times - - ACCENTS -

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.”

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