'I would have thrown myself to a lion to protect my daughter'

A 56-year-old woman, who allegedly stabbed three men who were gang-raping her 27-year-old daughter, says a teenager who risked her life to tell her about the crime is a hero.

The mother, now known as #LionMama on social-media platforms, has received praise from many South Africans.

To protect her daughter’s identity, she cannot be named.

She walked about 3km from her home in the village of Qumbu in Lady Frere, Eastern Cape, to an abandoned house, where her daughter was being raped.

She allegedly killed one of the perpetrators and injured the other two. She was arrested earlier this month.

The Lady Frere Magistrates’ Court released her on R500 bail. She faces one charge of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

She said the 18-year-old teenager who saved her daughter’s life was the real hero because she took action and told her about the attack.

The teenager tried to commit suicide this week.

She is a cousin of the dead alleged rapist, and her family has blamed her for his death. Some people in her community have threatened to kill her.

Overwhelmed by the criticism and threats on her life, she drank paraffin and bleach. She survived and is being treated at Frontier Hospital in Queenstown.

The rape survivor’s mother said all she wanted was to protect her daughter, adding that she was not happy about how things had turned out.

She said that when she answered the call from the teenager, she did not want to believe her daughter was being raped.

She had hoped it was a mistake and prayed that the teenager was wrong. Her worst nightmare was confirmed when she arrived at the scene.

“I could not believe it, because – even the one who has died, who was doing this to my daughter – we belong to the same family. He is the son of my sister. I doubted that he could do something like this.

“I am really saddened by this. In fact, this is what is really killing me spiritually inside. That girl was trying to save my daughter’s life.

“It is really hurting that she has now been blamed to an extent that she tried to take her own life,” the distraught mother said.

“I hope social workers find a safe place for her so that she can carry on with her studies. I just hope and pray that this is not the end of her dreams and aspirations.”


The mother has been humbled by the support she is getting from across the country.

People have pledged to raise money for her court case and have applauded her for fighting off her daughter’s alleged attackers.

“It means there are a lot of people out there with good hearts who are on my side. I would have thrown myself to a lion to protect my daughter, and I am sure many mothers would have done the same.

“I truly appreciate all the support I have been getting. It has made me strong,” she said.

Two elderly women from the village praised the mother. They did not want to give their names for fear of victimisation.

“We hope this is going to be a lesson to other would-be rapists. If only all three of them had died. They have been raping elderly women and killing them,” alleged one of them.

“This incident will make them think twice before they commit such crimes again,” said the other.

“We have been living in fear in this village for a long time because of these heinous crimes. We salute that woman for what she did. She was driven by a mother’s instinct and was very brave.”

Thembalomzi Busakhwe, chair of the community police forum in the village, said the three alleged perpetrators were known troublemakers.

He said the dead man had been accused of robbing a local shop earlier this month.

“There is a huge problem of alcohol and drug abuse in this village. One can say without a shadow of a doubt that this case was fuelled by such elements.

“In this village, there are so many unlicensed shebeens that are open all the time,” he said.

Village headman Mzukisi Sigqolana said alcohol abuse was the main cause of the ills plaguing the area.

Many people had been raped, and some killed, in the recent past. No arrests had been made after these crimes, he said.

“I think we need patrols because we don’t have a police station or police around. Justice is failing us because rape survivors, at times, do say who raped them, but the perpetrators get released and you see them in the villages,” Sigqolana said.

“Sometimes, witnesses refuse to testify in the cases. This incident really broke us as a community. We are shocked,” he said.

Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi asked people to stop raising money for the protective mother.

Sihlwayi visited the alleged rape survivor and her mother in Qumbu on Wednesday.

“It is disturbing to read in newspapers that there are people who are taking joy from this terrible incident. Most money that is collected without anybody’s request doesn’t reach the intended beneficiaries,” Sihlwayi said.

“We are saying to them that there is no reason for people to raise money for this woman.

“There is a government that is going to assist this family.”

The department would protect the young woman who tried to commit suicide and ensure that she did not blame herself for what had happened, she added.

Sihlwayi described it as a “very sad situation”.

The teenager would continue to attend school like any other child.

The department’s officials would help with her rehabilitation and monitor her progress, Sihlwayi said.


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