Brave women speak out

Azole Ketwa has lived with an abusive stepfather for 10 years, but she is now done with the past and ready to face the world.

Two Philippi women, who were horrifically abused by men they loved and trusted, have bravely spoken out about how their young lives were destroyed.

At an event held in the area last Sunday, Azole Ketwa, 21, and Zikhona Nosuta, 22, shared how they had suffered at the hands of the “evil” men they had trusted. Both work for the Answered Prayers Foundation.

Ms Ketwa’s ordeal started when her mother’s boyfriend, who lived with them, raped her when she was 11.

The young woman recalled how the man had ordered her to lock the door after her mother left for work.

But, she said, she did not lock the door. Minutes later the man was on top of her, breathing heavily and warning her not to scream.

She remembered how he had stripped her of her underwear and forced himself on her. She cried but the man had repeatedly told her “Sendizogqiba mnt’am” – I am about to finish, my child – she recalled.

After that her abuser washed the bloodied navy blue towel and the sheet. She never told anyone about the ordeal – not even her mom. She was scared of being judged, she said.

And to protect her mother’s relationship with the man, she kept the abuse hidden for years.

“The ordeal did not end one day. I had to sleep with him every time when I came from school. To free myself from this, I had to take clothes to school so I could change and not go home. It affected me mentally; such that I repeated grades. I used to cry alone. I kept the secret for long while the man stripped my dignity,” she said, crying.

She wished her mother would break up with the man. But they had a child. “Every time I saw him, he would look at my legs as if he was saying I am done with that one. I hated him. There were times when I thought of suicide. But I had a friend who I used to talk to. She always encouraged me to be strong.

“This lived with me until I saw Reverend Anita Pamla at the Amahle Quku’s service. She was speaking about her ordeal. I asked for her number from a person I know. I called her after hearing her story and wanted to meet with her. She agreed and we spoke about my ordeal. Today I am brave enough to talk about what happened to me,” she told Vukani.

With the encouragement of Reverend Pamla and friends she finally told police everything after 10 years and the man was arrested.

Sharing her story, Ms Nosuta remembered how, in 2015, she had noticed a handsome man and subsequently started dating him. It was when she fell pregnant in 2017, that he changed and became abusive – and the physical abuse continued throughout her pregnancy.

“I am not sure where this change came from. I gave birth earlier because of the abuse. In 2018, I got pregnant again. Things went worse. He would assault me in front of the child. I have wounds. He used to stab me with a screwdriver,” said Ms Nosuta, crying.

All this time, she said, she had thought she had a good lover but the abuse continued and she became depressed. She eventually found the strength to leave her boyfriend, but late last year he

found her, took her to his Gugulethu home and locked her in a room.

“He raped me for five days. He didn’t even give me food to eat,” she said.

After managing to escape, she went to the Eastern Cape but eventually returned to Cape Town where she laid charges against the man who was arrested and is serving time in Pollsmoor Prison.

Both women are now using their experience to help others in similar situations and have urged people in abusive relationships to speak out and seek help.

Reverend Palma, who is the founder of the Answered Prayers Foundation said their aim is to heal the survivors’ wounds. “People live a horrible life and we should tell that. We are happy that young people are starting to speak. Our society will be healed by us,” she told Vukani.