Women speak out on how families cover up rape by loved ones

Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko committed suicide after allegedly being raped by her boyfriend. Picture: Facebook
Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko committed suicide after allegedly being raped by her boyfriend. Picture: Facebook

The saddest part about being raped by a family member is that the family always wants to keep it a secret, says Norah Moufe Mathibe from Soshanguve.

Mathibe was raped by her father when she was nine years old.

“I spoke about it the next day – my aunt beat me for talking about it and I was told not to repeat that to anyone else. I spoke about it again when I was eleven but still no one would believe me,” she said.

Even at the age of 35, married with two kids, it still haunts her.

She said she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and she was taking medication for it.

Mathibe wants to protect her daughter from such trauma and she said that even though she is forced to speak to her father, she does not want her children to have any relationship with him.

“They know my dad but they do not know that he is my father. All they know is that he is somehow related to us. I do not want them to call him “grandfather”. I feel like he does not deserve that tittle,” she said.

She added that what was worse was having to live with the fact that he does not want to apologise, but he still blamed her for what happened.

South Africa, dubbed “the rape capital of the world”, has shocking statistics on sexual violence.

Africa Check reported that 39 828 rapes were reported in 2016/17.

It also reported that:

• 7% of women aged 15 to 49 had been “forced or persuaded” to have sex against their will by a sexual partner.

• 25.3% of women in Gauteng had been raped by a man, whether a husband or boyfriend, family member, stranger or acquaintance.

• 18% of women were raped by an intimate partner on one or more occasions.

On Friday, 23-year old Khensani Maseko ended her life at her home in Johannesburg after she was allegedly raped by her boyfriend.

The final-year Rhodes University student posted her date of birth (24.07.1995) and the date on which she died (03.08.2018) on her last Instagram post with the caption “No one deserves to be raped”.

Thandolwethu Matsane, a 26-year old beautician from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, said her mother just moisturised her with Vaseline on her private parts when she said she was raped by her cousin.

“They [the family] took it lightly. In fact they did not do anything at all. They did not seem shocked, to them it was just normal,” said Matsane.

She said that it was hard for her to have successful relationships.

“When a guy tried to touch me I would have flashbacks which made me aggressive and scared. I would sometimes end the relationship.”

Matsane said it was hard to forgive her cousin because every time she tried to speak to him he denied everything.

He still saw nothing wrong with what he did, she said.

Matsane tried to report him to the police but she was told that it was an old matter and there was no proof.

Mathibe and Matsane urged other victims to come out and talk about their trauma so that they may be able to get through it.

They said that it began by forgiving yourself.

Social media was flooded with condolence messages to Maseko’s family. Maseko’s last tweet reads: “When people ask for help, help them.”

Her memorial service was held on Tuesday and she will be buried on Women’s Day in Johannesburg.


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