This year a lot of focus has been on what his excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa is calling a second pandemic in our country – gender-based violence (GBV).
With the 16 Days of Activism drawing to a close a local woman came forward to talk about her experience and how one man with no regard for her life, changed it forever.
Lydia Nhlapo told the News the story of how she was attacked and raped in 2002, and even after suffering that horrific ordeal she still has to live with the consequences daily. She explained that her nanny died in 2002 and because she was not able to attend the funeral due to her work schedule she decided to visit the family and pass on her condolences.
She was told to ask for directions to the family’s house when she got to the taxi rank near the Rhino and Lion Park. But when she asked they could not help her, but another man then said he knew where she should go. He told her that he worked at the airport and was working night shift. He alleged that he was waiting for his girlfriend but decided to show Lydia where to go as he stayed close by.
Lydia said they continued to walk and talk about life in general, and that he seemed to be a nice man. There was nothing in the way he presented himself that made her suspicious of him.
I think he has been doing it for many years; I think he had raped so many women by lying to them and offering them jobs. I feel he realised I was not going to accept his offer and he had to do what he wanted to as soon as possible,” she said.
When they walked past a bush she offered him juice. He declined but as she was putting the juice in her handbag he grabbed her from behind and started choking her.
“Even when he choked me from behind I thought he was joking and I laughed.” Eventually she realised he was not joking and he punched her. During the scuffle she lost control of her handbag. He told her she should do everything he told her or he would stab her.
“I begged him not to rape me.”
He insulted her and pushed her into the bushes. He ordered her to undress and lie down on her clothes. She eventually said to him that if he was going to rape her, he must not kill her as well.
He said to me even if I don’t kill you, you are going to die. I did not understand what he meant and he kept saying it.”
He then told her that he was going to give her a present that she would never forget, but the thought of him being HIV positive never crossed her mind. Afterwards he took the juice from her handbag, drank it and threw the bottle on top of her. Lydia managed to flag someone down who took her to the police station where she opened a case.
She also saw a doctor who gave her a tablet to prevent her from getting pregnant. But, she said, still no one thought about HIV. Lydia has been living with her HIV status for more than 10 years, and believes that doctors should have helped her better at the time.
She has led a full life and believes the support that she has received has helped her immensely. She stands up for what she believes and has made a point of showing others that no means no – something she had to enforce again when she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker in January 2019.
To this day her rapist has not been caught and her co-worker has yet to be punished for touching her without her permission. Lydia wants women to know that they must speak out and not just accept what other people are doing because they are too afraid that they will be judged.