When I was abducted

2009-05-22 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL is a province well known for its green pastures and tropical climate — and for its crime statistics. Every person you see walking down the street has a story to tell, so let me tell you mine.

Back in 2000 I was 15 years old. I was in Grade 9 at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School and I still say that was the best year of my life. I was into everything — fashion, make-up and yes, boys. I remember that there was this new trend of making a stylish skirt out of an old ragged pair of jeans, and one Saturday afternoon I decided I had to keep up with the trend and get my old jeans done.

I was the only person standing at the bus stop and taxis were a bit scarce, but I wanted that skirt. So I was going to be patient and wait until a taxi came. I could hear some cheering from down the road. It sounded as though someone was having a party; how nice, I thought. A black Kadette appeared from nowhere and stopped in front of me. Three grown men were inside and the man in the back rolled down his window.

“Want a lift?” the driver asked. I still remember it very well. They were wearing suits and dark sunglasses. I refused the lift and moved a few steps away from the car. Then the man in the back seat pulled out a gun, placed it on his lap and turned to look at me. I took the hint alright. I remember taking a second to weigh my options; do I scream and run back home in the hope that someone would hear me, or do I risk it all and get into the car? I didn’t have much time to think; the door opened and almost knocked me over. And I got into the car.

It was as though I was watching my life pass me by as we drove past the house where there was a party. There were children dancing on the veranda of the house and I wondered if anyone would notice that something was wrong, that I was in trouble. I remember brushing a tear off my cheek; I couldn’t allow myself to cry, not now. Not yet.

My kidnappers were actually making conversation with me. They asked me a whole lot of questions which I didn’t see as relevant, and then it hit me. I was being kidnapped.

I remember thinking: “Hey! This only happens on TV. It can’t be happening to me.”

I wondered if this was the part where they would call my parents and ask them for a large sum of money in exchange for me. I hated sitting there wondering what they were going to do to me. Were they going to kill me? Were they going to rape me? What were they going to do? What were they going to do?

I noticed a bottle of brandy on the front seat, and it clicked: they were drunk. I was in a car with drunken strangers. Every realisation made me worry more. We were at a place I didn’t recognise. It was just after Imbali. They were chatting and laughing all the way, as though forcing a young woman into a car was the most normal thing ever. I hated being there with them. I hated being in their car. I hated that they were taking me to a place only they knew. I hated the questions they asked me, the looks they gave me. I hated them. I hated each one of them.

We eventually approached a row of houses on a gravel road and we drove to the last house in that row. One of the men got out of the car and opened the gate and the car turned into this foreign territory. The man who had opened the gate closed it after we had driven in and this was yet another sad realisation for me. They had no intention of taking me home.

I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and many thoughts were running through my mind all at once. I thought of the people I love, my family, and my friends. I said so many silent prayers I thought I was going mad. The driver and his passenger went inside the house. They left me with one man in the back seat. He kept touching me as if to check if I was still next to him. He was too drunk to stay awake.

“What do I do, God?” I remember asking myself at some point. Is this the part where I kick him and get out of the car and run to save my life? I couldn’t think straight anymore. I needed to keep calm, somehow.

I remember forcing myself to think positively. I remembered picturing myself safe and sound back at home, telling my family my story of how I escaped from three strangers who wanted to rape and kill me. But reality kept disrupting my train of thought, sadly.

Then I had an idea. It was a long shot but I couldn’t think of anything else at that point. I started to think of the most gruesome things, so I could gag. And I was winning. I started to feel sick, I wanted to vomit. I woke up the fool who was supposed to be “keeping watch on the prey” and told him I was feeling a bit sick, and I felt like vomiting.

I told him I needed to get water, quickly. He must have panicked because he quickly opened the car door and led me out the gate to another house which was just across from my kidnappers’ haven. There was a group of women who were sitting just outside the house and he walked up to them and asked one of them to get me a glass of water.

“Get my girlfriend some water please,” I recall him saying to the women.

“Sorry bhuti but we are busy. Let me show your girlfriend to the kitchen” one of the girls told him. She told me which way the kitchen was and that there would be someone there to help me.

In between silent “thank Gods” and still trying to keep up the sick act, I made my way around to the kitchen where I found three grown women. I briefed them about what was going on and they let me use their phone.

A few minutes later a close friend of mine came to fetch me. He wanted to find out what had happened and if these brutes had hurt me in any way, but I couldn’t tell him. I just couldn’t stop crying.

I thought of what might have happened to me, of what they might have done to me. I thought back to everything, the gun, being forced into a car in broad daylight and almost getting raped. The thought of what might have happened to me was too awful. This was just too awful.

Every now and then I think back and what still baffles me most is how one human being can force another into their car and think they can do whatever they want to them.

I think of all the mothers who are still raising little girls and I wonder if they know what dangers their girls might face one day?

I think of mothers struggling to educate their children so they can become successful some day, when a total stranger could come from nowhere and take all of that away.

How can someone destroy a child’s future for a few minutes of pleasure? How do these people sleep at night knowing that they have robbed someone of their life?

Let me appeal to every person reading this right now — let us try and make our province a better place, our country a safer place.

It begins with one person.

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