'This is a disgrace'

2013-05-05 14:00

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In the villages of Lusikisiki, a rape scourge has forced elderly women to live in fear. If they don’t speak out against this depraved social outbreak, they say, more women will suffer. They tell photojournalist Lungelo Mbulwana their harrowing stories

“Let him rape anyone but me again”

“He told me that he would do something very evil to me that day. He said: ‘Kneel down and bend over, ou lady.’”

Masiboni Mqanqala is 70. She was on her way to church on a misty Sunday morning when a young man attacked her. He held her at knife point, stole R100 from her and raped her close to the edge of a cliff.

Masiboni Mqanqala (70) wakes up with a cup of tea. She is terrified after hearing that the young man who raped her at the edge of a cliff is back in her village. Pictures: Lungelo Mbulwana/City Press

“He said: ‘Why isn’t this working? Do you have a man?’

“I said no, I didn’t, my husband had died.

“He asked if I went to church and I told him I did. Then he said: ‘It will work.’

“After he raped me, he went to my bag with my bible and took out the money I was going to donate to church.

“He asked if that was all I had and (said) he would rape me again. I said a silent prayer to God asking Him to take me out of that hell because I didn’t know what this boy wanted from me.”

Mqanqala speaks candidly about her ordeal, but becomes hesitant when she talks about the latest development: she’s heard that the man who raped her is back in her village, Goqwana, in the rural Lusikisiki district in Eastern Cape.

Mamcezelwa Zweni (86) says respecting your parents helps you live longer. Her hearing is failing, but she still smiles and nods at each question she’s asked

“This is the same man who raped a woman who had just given birth at the hospital. I know he will do it again,” she says.

She has only one wish: “Can he do it to anyone but me again?”

Mqanqala is not the only rape survivor in her village.

Mamsetyenzelwa Mhlangasa (71) has had a hard life. Now, like her other elderly neighbours, she lives in fear of being targeted by rapists

There are at least three others willing to tell their stories because they do not want to hide what is happening high in the Lusikisiki hills.

“I just woke up one night with this boy on top of me. He must have burnt incense for me to sleep like that. He raped me all night.

He asked me to cover my eyes so that I wouldn’t identify him,” says 87-year-old Nikiwe Masango.

Masango believes she and her elderly neighbours are being targeted because of their age. They are perceived as being “virginal” and, as such, less likely to be HIV positive.

Nikiwe Masango (87) believes she and her elderly neighbours are being targeted by rapists because of their age, ironically because of the belief that it makes them more ‘virginal’, hence less likely to be HIV positive

A stone’s throw away from her home, another woman was raped.

Masongo tells City Press: “I see the boy (who raped my neighbour) every day. The sight of him disgusts me.”

Qintselwa Vundle (57) was raped by her son’s friend. He came to her house pretending to be looking for her son. A scuffle ensued, and she bit him. But it didn’t help.

Qitselwa Vundle (57) lives close to her rapist. She shakes sometimes, imagining that he might come back

“I carried on fighting him even when he raped me. When he was done, he just got up, dressed and told me not to tell anyone. I swore at him.”

Vundle fled her house and ran to her neighbours, but “everyone didn’t know how to deal with it”.

She finally ended up at the chief’s house, alone, cold and mortified by her ordeal.

The elderly women of the village and surrounding areas do not understand why this is happening to them.

They don’t feel safe and do not believe the attacks can be stopped. Bangiwe Feke (84) is afraid she may be next.

Matshapa Bedumani (82), pictured in her Mcwabantsasa home, can’t believe how the world has changed. ‘People kill now, and rape, and do horrible stuff,’ she says

“This is a disgrace to our country,” she says.

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