It’s not only women who suffer sexual abuse at the hands of psychos. I am 23, I have survived to tell the tale and I’m working furiously to help others.
South Durban is an area of hard drug dealings and shebeens where the brewing of illegal liquor runs rampant. It is here that I was born and bred by my gran in council housing.
The rape took place on a Saturday afternoon, 2 November 2002. I was sixteen, on my way to a school budget meeting, just before Guy Fawkes Day, when children in my community throw firecrackers and watch them burn – it’s exciting.
Three men, aged between 22 and 26, approached me asking for "five bob" (50 cents). My response was "Sorry I don’t have any money." I continued walking, taking a “short cut.” They grabbed me from behind and took me into their "gully" (alley) – a graveyard about 500 metres from the path I was walking. There, two of the three guys beat me up, robbed me of my cell phone, wallet and clothing and then left.
I was sweating fiercely, although I was cold. I could feel my palms getting clammy and the perspiration running down my face. I get like that when I am really scared.
The third “moron” had me pinned against him whilst rubbing his genitals between my thighs with my pants pulled down. That was truly frightening. I could smell stale tobacco and wondered foolishly if I could suffocate before he did anything “worse.”
I fought to break loose and almost did for a second. Then he tightened up on me. He told me to “blow” him, and somehow I knew what he meant. He said I wasn’t doing it properly, so he asked me to bend, and again I knew what he was talking about. He then raped me.
He ejaculated all over my stomach - It was repulsive. It was as if there were things crawling on me. I lay still on the ground alongside the tombstone marked "Mkhize, beloved husband, father and brother." I barely remember how I got home.
I was taken to the local police station, which came to a standstill when they saw me covered in blood and smelling of semen. The police officer asked me, "What happened?" He asked me this in front of everyone – and I didn’t want them to hear. I thought "What a jerk!"
I was interviewed by a male police officer who tapped his fingertips on the table, yawning and sighing. The second police officer couldn’t spell to save his life. The docket went missing. Evidence got lost.
It’s sad when the justice system is not a protector. Then I had to endure the trial. The defense lawyers were insensitive. "Why didn’t you scream?" The rapist would have become hysterical and would have killed me; my life was at risk.
When it happened I detached myself from the reality of what was happening to me. All I knew was that I had to be calm and obey; I had to make the moron think that he had total control ‘cause that is what he wanted.
I think the defense was trying to imply that it was consensual sex, if I didn’t scream. I couldn’t answer the way I wanted. I had to say Yes or No. For example: "Did he rape you?" – Yes. "Did it feel good?" – No.
The outcome of a court hearing was like going for an HIV test. You know you want a certain outcome. But you also know that destiny and circumstances may not be with you. You have to prepare yourself to accept the outcome you don’t want, and find ways to restructure your life.
Oliver Meth is a freelance journalist, an activist on sexual violence and HIV/AIDS, photographer and writer. This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.