Rape survivor inspires others by telling her story in new book: 'Don't let your perpetrators win'

Angeline Tsepetsi. Image supplied
Angeline Tsepetsi. Image supplied

WARNING: This article contains details of rape.

  • Angeline Tsepetsi was brutally attacked and raped on her way to her home.
  • She refused to let that tragic night dictate her life.
  • She sees herself as a survivor and wants to be a vessel of hope to others out there who have gone through the same and has written a book.

What would have been a routine walk home from work turned into a nightmare for Angeline Tsepetsi when she was brutally attacked on the night of 16 December 2008.

But the resilient 39-year-old has refused to let that night dictate the rest of her life. She sees herself as a survivor and wants to be a vessel of hope to others out there who have gone through the same.

At the time, Angeline worked at a petrol station in Kroonstad in the Free State.

"My shift ended at 10pm. I lived in a commune, so I called two of my male housemates to walk me home. They arrived but then sat around chatting. I was in a hurry to get home as I was tired and didn't want to sit around. After a while, I decided I couldn't wait any longer, so I left them and started to walk home alone. I was hoping they would follow me as soon as they saw me leaving," she says.

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But her friends didn't. Soon Angeline realised she was being followed by five men but didn't think anything of it. It was only when three of them passed her, and the other two came up behind her that she realised she was in danger.

"One of them took out a large knife that was taped with white masking tape, and they threatened that if I screamed, they would kill me. I begged them not to hurt me, and I even called them my brothers. They ordered me to lie down, and they undressed me. With a knife on my neck, they started raping me, taking turns," she shares.

Angeline thought her ordeal was over, but the men then dragged her to some bushes next to a church and raped her again.

"That's where my heart was torn apart, and I wanted God to intervene because I could not understand how He could let them do this to me just outside his house (church)," she says.

When they were done, her attackers robbed Angeline of her cellphone, the R2 000 that she had just been paid, and her necklace.

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"I don't know where and how I got the strength to get up, pull my pants up, dust myself, and go to the house where I lived, but I did," she says.

The perpetrators were never found.

Angeline describes the next few years as long, hard, and heartbreaking. She decided to move back to her parents' home in Sebokeng.

But before she left, she wanted to visit the scene of her rape.

"I asked one of the guys who was supposed to walk me home that night to come with me. He didn't hesitate. I think he was riddled with guilt because of what happened," she shares.

"I told him to give me a few minutes alone at the spot."

Angeline knelt at the scene of her first attack and said the Lord's Prayer. "When I said Amen, I burst into tears and screamed my lungs out. I don't know why I went back to the horrendous place, but I felt I had to," she remembers.

It was hard for Angeline's parents as well.

"My parents did not know how to support me through the whole ordeal because I was struggling with depression, always crying and isolating myself from everyone, so they sent me for counselling. I remember one day, as the family was preparing for Christmas, they tried their best to spoil me by cooking my favourite meal, but I could not even enjoy the food because my taste buds were off," she says.

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Then came the thoughts of suicide. "One day, as I was sitting in the garage at home, I thought of taking my life. I orchestrated the plan on how to do it," she says.

"I lived near the railway station, and my plan was to just go and lie there so when the train comes, it would just finish me off, and my pain would be gone. But then I thought of my family's pain and decided I couldn't put them through that."

It's been 14 years since her attack, and Angeline now has an eight-year-old son, Bophelo.

"I am now in a better place because I can even talk about it. I prayed about it. I forgave myself even though I did not do anything wrong. I forgave my perpetrators, and even though they were not arrested, I said it is well, my God will deal with them. I wanted to move on with my life," she says.

 Angeline has since written a book about her ordeal.

"It's funny because I even found myself saying that it's better than me who was raped that day instead of someone else because I don't think they would have survived," Angeline says. Her book is titled, 'If not me, then who?'

sexual violence

Book cover image supplied by Angeline Tsepetsi

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Listening to the song "Something inside so strong" by Lira is what spurred her on as well. "Those lyrics speak to me," she says.

"I want to inspire people with my story. Yes, it happened to me, but yet here I am. I no longer relive the ordeal every 16 December. To other rape survivors, I would say, 'don't let your perpetrators win. Go for counselling, and find someone you trust to talk to. Live."

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