Yesterday the brokenness of our country met me very close to
We had a
lovely day in one of Johannesburg’s parks and afterwards enjoyed what was left
of a beautiful 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon on a friend’s balcony. We were singing
along to song old classics when our moment of bliss was abruptly halted by the
screams of a woman and her two children, the woman being mercilessly beaten up
by a gigantic man in the driveway of a house.
They were a
couple of hundred meters from us, but the blasts of desperation cut through our
bones where we clutched to our glasses and held our breaths. We phoned the
police within seconds and hoped that he would stop, but as he threw her to the
ground and stomped her we realised that her life was in danger and made haste
to that house.
The man did
not welcome our presence and repeatedly promised us that he would open the gate
and cause us severe harm if we failed to rather interest ourselves in more
joyful activities, since what happened on his property was not our business.
For a moment at least communist theory on property rights seemed appropriate.
For all his rhetoric and physical quality we realised soon enough that a man
who is enough of a coward to assault a woman would not be man enough to face up
to two men half his size. A real man would never abuse a woman.
came to the understanding that this was, unfortunately, our business. This was
an event that we wanted no part in, logic would’ve prescribed us to remain on
our balcony and acquire eye-witness accounts while waiting on the police to
arrive (they did arrive swiftly, I should add).
Compassion for fellow humans
does and should, however inspire us to engage in the absurd when required I
believe now. By the time we had arrived both the woman and man was drenched in
Her (I believe their) little daughters had bloodstains on them too;
it seems as if her blood spattered onto them. It was, alas, the business of any
human being holding on to any some form of righteousness, it was impossible to
turn a blind eye. We must all unite against this evil.
managed to distract the man while I caught the woman’s eye and explained that
we would wait around the corner. As we left
the man disappeared into the house which bought the woman enough time to press
four numbers on the gate’s electronic lock for it to open up; she and her
daughters came running out, we stopped the car, they got in and we sped off.
where probably the worst part of a sad tale starts. The girls were dreadfully
calm. Even as the man was pounding the woman they were negotiating with the man
on behalf of their mother.
They were used to it; it was just another normal day to them. As we made our way
to the police station the one remarked that he would leave them alone now, as
he told them he wanted no part in their lives. It was a moment of utter
brokenness where I only just managed to compose myself.
Children should not be
exposed to such cruelty, why must one man have the power to rob two pure souls
of their innocence!?
As we were
getting closer to the police station the woman begged us not to take her there.
She was so dependent on this monster that she could not afford to lay charges
He had closed her business and had probably scarred her so severely,
emotionally, that she had not speck of confidence left – she honestly believed
that she would go to jail for the whole debacle, and not he... We argued in
vain and could not force our opinion on her, and therefore took them to the
chalet where they were staying, as were her request.
At a time she even asked
us to take them back to him, as she was sure
that they could now sort everything out. We disinclined.
And so we
returned, knowing that our efforts were to no avail, except for maybe saving
her and her children from a couple of minutes of agony. The police arrived just
after we left the man’s house.
Had we enabled the police to catch the man
literally red-handed a better outcome could’ve been produced. Now, regrettably,
I know that the woman will face the same situation soon enough, possibly
implicating her children again, possibly even using them as shield and
goes so much deeper, the solution I don’t have. But I know now – this is OUR
help but to wonder what caused a man, who would’ve seemed like a well to do
gentleman otherwise, to turn into a beast. Was his father a paedophile that
abused him when he was a boy?
Did his mother become a substance abusing single
mom after dad passed away, taking her hurt out on him and his siblings until he
started fighting back?
Was the woman from an abusive background and therefore
of the opinion that this type of violence was part of life? Was she simply
broken down psychologically to the extent that she believed that this was the
best she could get out of life? Will those two little girls get caught up in
the same death trap?
Somehow I can’t help but to believe that the violent
crimes that we endure each day are the result of the fatherlessness and
bankruptcy of family structures that are so frequently found in South Africa.
is time that we stop turning our heads from these societal issues. Unite
against abuse! But also, become creative in approach! Fight the only good fight
– the fight for those who can’t defend themselves.