Persistent incidents of femicide and gender-based violence have left the community of eMahlubini at Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape in agony. Much blood has been shed in the village over the past four years.
Four women were brutally murdered while two others escaped from their attackers with serious injuries. Just last week, a 22-year-old woman was raped and her throat slit before her body was dumped in a pit toilet.
Twenty-two-year-old Nomaphelo Mzileni lived with her mother and her three-year-old daughter, but sadly her life was gruesomely cut short last week. This is after she fell a victim to a fellow village man who has since been arrested for the horrible act.
Nomaphelo’s lifeless body was found dumped in a pit toilet. Her family remains distraught, as her devastated mother Nothemba Mzileni explains.
“What I heard from her friends, my daughter and the perpetrator were from a tavern. He then went to his home with Nomaphelo. When I ask them if there was a consensus between them because my daughter was not in a relationship with him, I was told that there was. I was then told that he gave her too much alcohol at the tavern and she became drunk. But when he wanted to sleep with her she refused and they fought. She was found naked without even her panty on.”
At a nearby household is an 84 year lives with trauma of rape and scars of being hacked with an axe by a perpetrator last year. Nolusapho Sithinte escaped with a broken arm and serious head injuries.
A suspect linked to the attack remains in custody, but even worse, she is a double rape victim.
“It was a relative who attacked me the first time and even the second attack was by my grandson. The first attacker kicked the door open. I still had my sight then and I could also hear his voice, that’s how he got arrested. The second one also kicked the door open and started beating my daughter. I cried and he came to beat me. Blood was oozing out of my head. I crawled outside and called his mother because she stays close by. I said we are dying here. Come and fetch your child.”
The community of EmaHlubini feel helpless, saying the situation is out of hand. An elderly man, Thembelani Nkehle believes the community has a role to play in curbing these social ills.
“What is happening in this village is very painful. It’s the fourth time that this has happened in this village. These things happen in other villages, but they are quite prevalent in this village.”
Young women feel unsafe in their own homes. Yamkela Yose says an eye for an eye.
“If we can set our own law as the community and say if someone kills, they will also be killed then things would be better. If for instance we set the record straight that if you kill, this is how we will punish you, things will change for the better.”
Some of the elderly women in the village believe the 16 days of activism on no violence against women and children is having the opposite effect and only increase the chances of being attacked.