Durban – A frustrated KwaZulu-Natal woman who shot and killed her philandering husband for infecting her with HIV/Aids has created a quilt in which she tells her story.
Her quilt is one of about 400 which Westville and Kgosi Mampuru prison inmates made. They are currently on display at the International Aids Conference currently under way at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
Thandi Shabangu, 43, from Stanger, is serving a 20-year jail sentence at Durban’s Westville prison for murdering her husband and six years for the attempted murder of his colleague in 2012. The sentences are running concurrently.
She told her story during an event at the prison on Monday, at which the quilts were handed to the premier’s office. The quilts will be donated to 16 KwaZulu-Natal orphanages. The gesture was intended as an apology to children orphaned by crime.
The mother of two children, aged 25 and 6, said life with her husband, who she married in 2004, was perfect until she was diagnosed with HIV/Aids.
“I was pregnant when I found out that I was HIV positive. I had gone to see the gynaecologist and my husband was working in Pongolo at the time. You know when your husband is away from you, many things happen,” said the former traffic officer, who discovered that her husband had been unfaithful.
Despite the infidelity, Shabangu decided to stay with him because, she said, he was her pillar of strength.
"Every time we went to the gynae, I would ask him, what was going to happen to the baby. He said I should relax because people were living long lives with HIV. I did not believe him, my CD4 count was 55 and the viral load was more than 3000."
Shabangu said she was overwhelmed by everything and she lost the baby.
When Shabangu eventually started antiretroviral treatment she suffered another setback when the side-effects of the medication prevented her from driving.
"I was admitted into hospital and I told the doctors that I did not want to die from Aids. I refused to die."
She said it was her family's support that helped her come to
terms with her diagnosis, although she sometimes thinks about the people that
In 2009, Shabangu suffered another setback.
Fear of death
"One of my colleagues had tuberculosis, but he kept saying he was bewitched. He said someone put muti in his tea, but I could see that these were the symptoms for HIV. I tried to tell him to get tested, but he just would not accept it and one day he died in my arms. He infected me with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. I lost so much weight. I could not even carry the firearm."
She admitted herself to Stanger Hospital, where she stayed for 24 months.
"I told the doctors I was HIV positive, have MDR-TB and I need to be admitted into hospital. I told them I did not want to die."
Her fear of death kept her alive.
She was discharged from hospital after she was informed that her CD4 count had increased to 450 and the viral load had fallen to 2500.
When she returned to work her colleagues did not want to work with her.
"But I told myself that I must not worry about them because they were dying like ants and I was the one who refused to die because there was treatment available."
Her problems started in 2012, when she became jealous of all her husband's girlfriends and he refused to use protection during sex.
On April 13, 2012, Shabangu's husband asked her to bring their car to his workplace. In his office she saw a framed photograph of him and one of his girlfriends. He denied the relationship when confronted about it.
On her way out of her husband's office, she bumped into one of his colleagues.
"The woman was so rude, she tried to slap me and I moved. Then she went for my gun and we both fought for it. Shots were fired and she ran away."
In a fit of rage, Shabangu followed the colleague and fired several shots in her office. The woman was unhurt.
While Shabangu was walking out of the building, she saw her husband running towards her.
"I shot him with one bullet and he died instantly," she said.
She could not imagine her husband leaving her for someone else after everything they had been through.
"I am not angry at myself for what I did. No one else could take him away from me, even though he was having affairs with other women. He never ever apologised for giving me HIV/Aids."