Numerous attempts by a Town Two woman to end an abusive relationship with the father of her child have landed her in what feels like “house arrest”.
Kholeka Mgudlwa, 29, says she cannot live a normal life as the man, father to her 10-year-old daughter and a well-known thug in the neighbourhood, repeatedly threatens her or anyone who seeks to have a relationship with her.
And her efforts to get help from the police have also drawn a blank, with at least two cases against the man “going down the drain”.
She has been stabbed and had her house burnt down by the man who claims to love her. In July last year, the man allegedly stabbed her in the face and vandalised her shack in Makhaya. A scar on the side of her face bares testimony to this. And in December the man allegedly set Ms Mgudlwa’s shack alight.
On both occasions, she opened cases at Harare police station.
She also obtained a court interdict against the accused. However, none of these appeared to help. The man continues to threaten Ms Mgudlwa and her mother, while there has been no progress on the two cases.
In an interview with Vukani at her mother’s home on Friday February 2, Ms Mgudlwa said all her dreams and aspirations had been “shattered” as she could not freely walk on the streets. In 2013 she was forced to drop out of the University of the Western Cape because she could not cope with her studies due to depression she apparently suffered as a result of the abuse.
“My life and the entire family are severely affected by this,” said Ms Mgudlwa.
“I am no longer concerned about myself, but about my mother. I know I am going to die, but my mother cannot go through this. My heart is really hurting.”
Ms Mgudlwa said she met the man in 2002 and fell pregnant with their child in 2006. In 2005, she said, she picked up some elements of abuse, and in 2007 after the birth of their child, things got worse.
However, whenever she opened a case of abuse they would talk things through until she decided it was enough. “I still loved him then and I believed he would change,” she said.
Instead, things continued to be bad. “I realised that I had no future with him,” she said, adding that the man was then in and out of prison.
“Whenever he came out, he would threaten whoever I was in a relationship with.” Ms Mgudlwa said things got worse and ultimately forced her to move to her grandmother in Site B in 2016. In March last year she moved to Makhaya but the man still regularly threatened her until he allegedly burnt down the shack in December.
Since then, Ms Mgudlwa has been living in fear at her mother’s home.
“I am under house arrest. I cannot go anywhere. If I want to go I must first check and see if there are people walking on the road. Otherwise my life is in danger,” she said.
Ms Mgudlwa has obtained a court interdict against the man, yet he still threatens her and sends phone messages declaring his love for her. “I do not want him anymore,” she said.
On Saturday January 27, she said the ex-boyfriend caused drama when he wanted to force his way into her mother’s home but there was a locked gate.
Harare police spokesperson Captain Siyabulela Vukubi said two cases were opened against a 37-year-old man. He said the man was arrested and appeared in court on domestic violence related cases. He subsequently failed to appear for the next date. “A warrant of arrest has now been issued against him,” he said, meaning police can arrest him whenever they find him.
Town Two neighbourhood co-ordinator, Siphiwo Sopili, said they were fully aware of the case and had tried on various occasions to assist Ms Mgudlwa and her mother.
He criticised police for failing to carry out their work and to protect the complainant. “This is a terrible case,” he said. “This woman cannot go anywhere because of this man. We have to escort her whenever she needs to go somewhere.”
Mr Sopili said numerous warrants of arrest were issued for the suspect, but police failed to act. He said members of the neighbourhood watch caught the man on Monday February 5, the day Vukani spoke to Captain Vukubi, but was roaming the streets the next day.
“It appears as though our police are part of the problem. As soon as he came back he went to threaten that woman and her mother,” said Mr Sopili. “We are now not sure what to do”.