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Laaitie
 
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The cowardly crime - domestic abuse

12 December 2011, 20:10

Yesterday the brokenness of our country met me very close to home.

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.

We also 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) blood.

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.

My comrade 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.

This is 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 against him.

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 leverage.

The problem goes so much deeper, the solution I don’t have. But I know now – this is OUR BUSINESS!

I couldn’t 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.

Surely it 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.

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