Prisoners come face to face with their victims

2015-05-28 19:18
(Amanda Khoza, News24)

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban - Tears flowed down Zandile Ndlovu’s cheeks as she came face to face with her victim's family and the community and asked for forgiveness for the crime she had committed.

Ndlovu was among five other women incarcerated at Durban’s Westville Correctional Centre who participated in a Victims-Offender Dialogue Programme at the centre on Thursday. The three-year-programme is aimed at offering conflict resolutions between offenders and their victims.

Ndlovu is serving a 10-year-sentence for the attempted murder of her grandmother and her four-year-old cousin.

The woman, who grew up in Empangeni, told a gathering of about 200 people that she grew up without a father.

“There were three of us at home, two girls and a boy. My mother raised us and I would often ask her where my father was.

“In December 1997 my mother took me to my father’s family and I was happy to see them.

“My paternal grandmother was so happy to see me, she asked my mother if I could stay,” said Ndlovu.

She moved to Eshowe after her mother agreed.

'When I got up he was naked'

“My grandparents were staunch Christians. They lived with an uncle who was an angel in their eyes, but I knew that he smoked weed when they were not around.

“One day while we were home alone with him he sent my cousin next door and he called me into his room. He told me to fetch something under the bed and when I got up he was naked.

“He told me to take off my underwear and I started crying so he took off my panties and raped me.

“He then took me to the bathroom and he bathed me before and told me that he would kill me if I told anyone,” recalled Ndlovu, adding that the uncle would sometimes refuse to let her go to school.

“One day I came home late and my grandmother accused me of having a boyfriend. She then lifted up my skirt and checked if I was still a virgin.

“I started crying and told her that my uncle did this to me, but she did not believe me. Instead, she chased me away to go and live with my mother and called me a liar.”

Ndlovu refused to go back to her mother’s house and decided to go and live on the streets.

“In 2007 I decided to go back to my grans and one day while we were sitting outside I saw Sifiso walking towards the house with two young children.

'This is when I plotted to kill him'

“It was a like I was watching a movie. All my relatives were greeting him and they were happy to see him except me. He asked me why I was so cold and I just looked at him. This is when I plotted to kill him.”

Ndlovu said the following year she thought of the perfect murder.

“But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that killing him wouldn’t hurt him enough so I decided that I would hurt his son instead.

“One afternoon when my grandmother was looking after the children alone, I knocked on the door and asked her to let me in.

“I closed the door behind me and went into the kitchen and took the same knife he used to threaten me with.

“I went into the bedroom and asked my gran to let me bath my uncle’s son. I sent one of the other children to the kitchen and then I started stabbing the four-year-old.

“I stabbed him over and over and over until I thought he was dead,” said a visibly shaken Ndlovu.

'I only wanted to stab my uncle’s son'

She said when she came back to her senses she realised that she had also stabbed her grandmother.

“It was a mistake; I only wanted to stab my uncle’s son. I was hurt and angry. I had my whole life ahead of me and he just took it away. I am so sorry for what I did,” said Ndlovu.

Husband and wife Delisiwe Shandu and Sbusiso Zulu stood side-by-side in their prison clothes on the stage and told their story.  

Shandu said she was serving 15 years and her husband was serving 24, for the murder of her mother, Doris Dube.

“I was very young when we moved to Amaoti. One day I was sitting at home and a man knocked on the door while I was sitting with my siblings. He told them to stand in the corner and told me to take off my underwear.

“He threw me on the bed and raped me. When he was done he told me to get dressed and make him some tea. After I served him the tea, he raped me again,” said Shandu.

“I found out later that I was pregnant from the rape and when I told my mother she was so angry. Eventually I got a job and things just deteriorated from there.

“My sister and I were taken into foster care. And when my sister died she did not have any beneficiaries so I told my mother she could take all the money,” said Shandu.

Shandu’s mother trusted her husband Sbusiso so much that she asked him to keep all the bank cards.

“One day I asked my husband for money and he gave it to me. We started using my mother’s money until one day when she found out we had used all the money. She threatened to report us to the police.”

'Please can you find it in your hearts to forgive us'

Shandu said she went into a state of panic and thought of a way “to get rid of her mother”.

“I told my husband that my mother was a useless mother anyway, let’s just kill her. I bought a firearm and my husband killed her.

“I am sorry to the community and to our family for what we did. I was the mastermind behind her death and now my husband is serving time with me. I admit that I have done wrong. Please can you find it in your hearts to forgive us,” she said.

The families each got a turn to respond to the offenders testimonies. Families exchanged hugs and kisses as a sign of reconciliation.

Chairperson of the KZN House of Traditional Leaders Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza told the offenders that  they too needed to first forgive themselves.

“Forgiveness starts with you. You need to forgive yourself before you can forgive someone else.

"Forgiveness is a very powerful thing, no matter how angry someone may be angry at you, but, as soon as they hear the words, ‘I am sorry,' they can find it in their hearts to forgive you,” said Chiliza.

Read more on:    durban  |  prisons  |  crime
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