When Mahlogonolo Ngwepe planned to go to a nearby mall for a spot of grocery shopping on a quiet Sunday morning, she didn’t imagine it would turn out to be the worst day of her life.
The 27-year-old from Lephalale in Limpopo was kidnapped that fateful day and two years later, the horror still haunts her.
This is her story.
“I made plans to go to Jabulani Mall in Soweto one Sunday morning, and since our home is on the main road we usually just stand in front of the gate while awaiting a taxi. While I was waiting, a silver-grey VW Polo abruptly stopped in front of me.
Three men and a woman got out of the vehicle. They were carrying guns, which they pointed at me, and forced me to get into the car. ‘Don’t you dare scream because we will blow your head off,’ I recall one of the men saying.
Terrified, I did as I was told.
Even though I was right in front of my home, I couldn't do anything as I had to follow instructions, so I got into the car and they drove off. When they asked where I was going, I told them I was on my way to the mall to buy groceries. Then they drove me to Jabulani Mall and made me withdraw money from my banking account.
I couldn't do anything because they had promised to kill me if I screamed for help. I withdrew all the money I had and gave it to them.
Then they drove with me from Soweto to Randburg. On our way to Randburg they took my wig off and tossed it out of the window before changing routes. They said they did this to confuse whoever would come looking for me. They also had hypodermic needles and threatened to use those to drug me.
At around midday, I was taken out of the car and moved to a very dark room in an unknown location. There was not a single streak of light coming into the room, there was no one there aside from them – and all I could do was scream.
‘No one is going to hear you,’ the woman said to me. I couldn’t believe it. I thought there was no way this could be true, I hoped it was all a terrible dream I would wake up from.
But it was all really happening.
The woman asked me to take off my clothes so the men could look at my body and see if their clients would be happy. I cried. I couldn't believe a woman could be so cruel.
One of the guys wanted to rape me but it went against their clients’ rules because they had to sell me as what they described as ‘fresh meat’. They talked about transporting me somewhere. I was meant to be ‘shipped’ the following night. Eventually, they used the needles to drug me and left me in that room for what felt like hours. I had no strength.
Later, they came back and took my phone and asked for my mother's number. Those people know their job. They sent her a text from my phone. ‘We have your daughter,’ the message read.
Luckily, my mom acted fast and immediately reported the matter to the police station.
After texting her they took me back to the car. I could see one of the guys felt sorry for me, he kept staring at me as I prayed for mercy, tears rolling down my face.
The woman had no mercy at all, even though the guy pleaded with her to drop me off in the middle of nowhere because he had a ‘bad feeling’ about the ‘direction the operation was going.’
She insisted they go ahead with the job but he maintained they would find another woman, even if it was a prostitute from Johanessburg.
They drove off and finally threw me out of the car in front of Wits University. Luckily it wasn't moving fast and I wasn’t badly injured.
A passerby helped reunite me with my family. It was complicated though because I could barely remember anything as I was drugged. But his patience pulled through.
Once I got home, I found a lot of my loved ones there, waiting for my safe return. I couldn't speak because I was crying and incredibly emotional.
Life after this incident hasn’t been the same. For some time I felt unsafe in my own home but as the days have gone by, I’ve learned to heal and slowly overcome the fear caused by this traumatic ordeal.”
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