Living permanently disabled after violent rape

Pharie Sefali
Andiswa, not her real name, inside her shack. Photo by Pharie Sefali
Pharie Sefali

A 43-year-old woman who was raped, and stabbed three times in her spine has been left disabled, paralyzed in her right arm and left leg, and unable to speak.

Andiswa, not her real name, from Site C Khayelitsha, was attacked and raped two years ago on her way to work.

Since the incident, she can do little herself. When GroundUp visited Andiswa in her one-bed shack, she could not speak at all, but only made sounds to indicate yes or no. She gave the impression of being a cheerful person and seemed glad to have visitors.

Her neighbour said that before the incident, Andiswa was a domestic worker and went to work every day. She lived a normal life like any hardworking mother who has a family to take care of.

As her neighbour described the incident, Andiswa became restless. She wanted to say something, but she could not form any words. She showed the scar tissue from the three stab wounds near her spine.

During the day, she looks after her two-year-old granddaughter and waits for her seven-year-old son, Thobile, to return from school. Her eldest daughter works all day at a restaurant.

She receives a disability grant, which must cover her household costs.

Since she cannot prepare food, the family eats bread until her daughter returns from work. The neighbour said sometimes the seven-year-old makes his own food.

Andisiwa’s home is tiny for a whole family. The four family members sleep on the same bed with only two blankets. The zinc sheets have holes. The paraffin heater is broken. They are too afraid to make an open fire.

Inside the house, there is a portable toilet, but it is difficult for Andisiwa to use as she struggles to balance herself because of her paralysis.

A community leader, Xolani Dywili, said that the family’s situation is very unfortunate. “I think as the community we have to stand together and protect the women. Due to this incident, her dreams are shattered, but she has to be strong so that she is able to take care of her family in her condition.”

Dywili said the community will try to find donations to assist the family and also extend her one-room shack.

Names have been changed in this article.

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TOPICS:  Gender Rape Society

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