South Africa: Had I stayed he would have killed me‚ says a survivor of domestic violence

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KwaZulu-Natal mother of two Akhona Kekana‚[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]22‚ ran away from her husband in August last year after enduring eight years of abuse.

Kekana‚ who never knew her father‚ lost her mother at the age of 14. She fell pregnant with her first child when she was 15 and got married at the age of 16.

Last year she came to Johannesburg in a bus with only R700 in her pocket and her seven- and three-year-old daughters.[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Though I had nothing‚ I had had enough. I was never gonna be more ready.”

She and her siblings were left with only aunts who saw nothing wrong with how the man treated her.

“I don’t think I was looking for a romantic relationship‚ I was too young for that. He is nine years older me‚ he assumed the role of a father‚ that’s what I drew warmth from‚” Kekana said.

They were just pleased to have a “son-in-law”. Whenever she would go to them in a bid to try to escape her sham marriage‚ they would alert him to fetch her‚ she said.

“He knew I don’t have parents and those I’m left with [her relatives] allowed him to walk all over me. I have endured all kinds of abuse you can think of. He tried to kill me so many times. I have scratches on my body – a constant reminder of what he did to me‚” she said.

Kekana sombrely told TimesLIVE how he would beat up their children in order to spite her‚ telling her that she was nothing without him.

She could not successfully open a case of domestic violence against him as he would sweet-talk the police officers who often told her “to fix it” as it was a family issue. Asked when she realised that she was indeed being abused‚ Kekana said abuse can be seen in the little things.

“He always liked it when I was in the house. I was not even allowed to go to the shop. Sometimes a person wants to check your phone‚ take you everywhere‚ disapprove of your friends in order to isolate you or they become obsessive. It never ends well‚ you are practically a prisoner‚” she said.

Because of her abusive and oppressive situation‚ Kekana ended up failing her matric and becoming a housewife.

Kekana still fears for her life as her husband often calls her making promises to change and when she does not believe him he resorts to threats.

“Though he doesn’t know where I am‚ he lives in the same street with my sister whom I took my kids to. I fear for their safety‚” she said.

Her hope has been restored after she obtained a skills certificate for home-based care and palliative care.

This was through a programme of the victim empowerment centre‚ Ikhaya Lethemba which is supported by Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.

Kekana said she would look for a job and pursue her studies in drama and arts. She said she wants to be “a role model for her children and focus on my dreams”.

The graduation was meant to honour 170 survivors who want to change their lives for better.

Nkosi-Malobane encouraged the women to rehabilitate themselves further and change their stories from “victim to victory”.

She said that all women should rise and not see themselves as permanent victims.

“To our graduates‚ I understand that you have walked a difficult journey to be where you are today. I am in awe of the perseverance‚ the faith and strength you have displayed during the most painful season in your lives‚” Nkosi-Malobane said.

The MEC announced that a facility similar to Ikhaya Lethemba would be opened in Everton.

Others graduated in child and youth care and beauty skills.

The graduation took place lon Friday in Johannesburg.

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