Gender-based violence is on the rise in some Eastern Cape rural areas

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A woman from Engcobo in Eastern Cape, Ziyanda Maqonga, was assaulted by her brother-in-law and his wife. She was hit by a sharp object and sustained serious injuries to her head and face.

She alleges that the Ngcobo police station did not want to open a case for her until she produces a J88 which she could not be assisted with by the hospital.

Two weeks after the attack, Ziyanda Maqonga is still bruised and swollen. She was accused by her sister-in-law of harassing customers after she asked a customer to buy her a drink. A fight between them ensued and almost cost her, her life.

“My sister-in-law beat me and I beat her back, her husband held me so his wife could beat me, when I asked him why he was doing that instead of stopping both of us from fighting, he said he’s been watching me and that I am rude.”

“He then went out of the room. I felt two blows on the head, but I didn’t know I was being hacked with a bush knife. I then fell and blood oozed from the wounds, I couldn’t even see with my eyes and it was so hard to breathe,” Maqonga recounts.

When the victim went to open a case at the local police station, she was sent from pillar to post. She couldn’t open a case until she produced a J88 form, filled out by a doctor.

“I went to the police station and they sent me to All saints’ hospital, at all saints they said they couldn’t help me and I must go back to the doctor who stitched my wounds in Elliot. I went to Elliot and when I got there I was told there’s no doctor and he will only be available next month”.

The victim’s family wants justice for her.

Maqonga’s sister Ntombizandile Mhlapho says what was more painful is that the perpetrators wanted to finish her off by making sure she could not breathe. Mhlapho says they feel let down by the Health and Police Departments.

“This is disgusting, I hate it, I even wanted to take the law into my hands because there’s no justice at all in South Africa. There’s no way a person can be injured on Sunday night and taken to hospital, then when she goes to the police, they don’t take action when my sister is hurt like this.”

The incident has also sparked outrage from Women’s Rights Advocacy Groups. Petros Majola the director of the Khula community development project says the J88 must be available at hospitals.

“The police on the other side must not wait until the victim brings the J88 before a case can be opened, in this case, the police officers should have opened the case so that this man can be arrested because now there’s no justice  they are just playing around.”

“We are talking about gender-based violence, but these two departments are not helping us, that is the department of health and the saps, they are playing with victims.”

The police only went to take a statement from the victim after the SABC visited her.

EC police spokesperson Tembinkosi Kinana says the couple that attacked her has since been arrested.

“The complainant has since been assisted by the saps management and a case has been opened as we speak, two suspects were arrested and are expected to appear in Ngcobo magistrate court on Monday”.

The suspects both face a charge of attempted murder.

EC health department spokesperson Yonela Dekeda says initially the patient had not submitted the required J88 for the doctor to fill at the time.

“The hospital has made arrangements for the J88 to be completed; the client is being redressed through our customer care complaint management processes”.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane officially opened the 16 Days of Activism as one of the ways of fighting GBV that rises rapidly in the province. But more cases of GBV remain unresolved in some police stations across the province. One of those police stations is under investigation due to unresolved cases. -Additional reporting by Nomzwanele Mngoma