Victim of abuse speaks out

Thandile Sontshantsha was assaulted

Thandile “Linkie” Sontshantsha was repeatedly punched as she cried and pleaded for the beating to stop. And when the beating did eventually stop, her eye was swollen shut and a tooth was loose.

Her assailant, she says, was her lover. Refusing to remain a victim, she has opened a case of assault against her estranged boyfriend.

The Gugulethu resident says she wishes she had listened to those who had warned her to get out of the abusive relationship.

Ms Sontshantsha says the assault happened last Sunday when her boyfriend fetched her to go to his house. There, she claims, she was severely beaten, leaving her face bruised and one of her teeth, loose.

“I have been warned by my family to break up with him, but I didn’t. I now blame myself for not listening to them,” she told Vukani.

Ms Sontshantsha said she was working with social workers to get a restraining order.

Her mom, Notsikelelo Dunywa, said she was disheartened by what happened to her child and that she had heard about it via social media. A friend, she added, had sent her a picture of her daughter’s injuries, on WhatsApp.

“After seeing the pictures, I thought that was the end,” she said, adding that her older daughter had accompanied Ms Sontshantsha to the police station to open the case.

Violence against women remained a serious problem and need attention, the heartbroken mother said. “You do not destroy what you love,” she said, and “we will give her the support she needs.”

Nombeko Lephuthing, the director of Thetha, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for the rights of abused women and the gay and lesbian community, encouraged women to speak out and expose abusers.

In doing so, she said, they would potentially save the lives of other women in similar situations.

“Thetha means speak out. We are against any form of abuse. This happened just as we finished Women’s Month. We say to women do not even allow a slap, because abuse starts there,” she said.

Ms Lephuthing urged women to leave abusive relationships and to report abuse to police.

“Women should not die in silence. We have police to report (abuse to). There are also many organisations that one can approach to get help. We urge women to come forward and report abuse,” she said.

Gugulethu police spokeswoman, Constable Sandisiwe Ngqele, confirmed that a domestic violence case had been opened in connection with the assault on Ms Sontshantsha and that police were investigating.

Constable Ngqele told Vukani they were looking for the boyfriend in order to question him about the case.

The victim of abuse said she will no longer keep quiet.
Mom Nontsikelelo Dunywa in red and Nontsikelelo Lephuthing accompanying Thandile Sontshantsha to see the social workers.