It had been another blissful day for the newly-wedded Thabo and Wendy, and the sunny days were a perfect reflection of what the rest of their lives together would be like. Their wedding day was only a glimpse of the magical years they would build together. Thabo had found his world in Wendy, and Wendy could not stop calling him her prince charming. Ominously, Thabo had recently opened up his own transport and logistic company, so their honeymoon was short-lived. They had decided to only go for a weekend and return to their house immediately when the weekend was over. They agreed that when they celebrate their first wedding anniversary they would take a whole week and make the most of it to make up for their short-lived honeymoon.
It had been another sparkling day, with the weather on 28 degrees Celsius—we all know that is a good weather in Durban. On such days, Wendy would not rush home since she knew that Thabo would be working until ten o’clock, making sure that his late shift orders run smoothly. It was a perfect weather for AfriConnexion Trucks to make six loads and indeed, they made it. Thabo was exhausted! Even the 26km that he had to drive from central Durban to Kwa-Mashu was too much. As he was driving, the only fantasies that he had were of his wife serving him her scrumptious beef curry and rice, of course, there would be a salad and mashed butternut on the side. His wife’s food was mouth-watering. After the warm plate of delicious food, Wendy would wash his manly feet and give him a relaxing massage––his mind could not escape these thoughts.
At ten past eleven he was rushing through the driveway, without even realizing it, his imagination had kept him in good company. Again, he imagined himself walking into his house shouting, “honey I’m home”, his wife rushing to him and giving him a warm kiss on the lips, but when he opened the door and uttered the words, “honey I’m home”, it was only the sound of his voice echoing through the walls. His wife was fast asleep––teaching primary school kids is a fatiguing job! Suddenly his appetite vanished, drowsiness covered his eyes, and his body was heavy. Before he knew it, he was fast asleep and snoring like a pig, with one arm around his wife. Thabo adored Wendy, she was his most precious treasure and he could trade anything for her.
Thabo’s mind had been too clouded with excitement that he forgot to lock the gate. Before the clock could strike half past eleven, Thabo and Wendy were woken up by the banging door. Three men whom he could not recognize, because their faces were covered in balaclava’s had broken the front door and were walking straight into their bedroom. For that moment, he wished that he had bought a bigger house because a four-room house made it easier for the thieves to find them, but he had been planning to make the renovations as soon as they had their first child. One man gave him a soft bang on the head with the gun, just to weaken him, while the other pulled his wife towards him calling her a prostitute. He pulled her arms to the back and tied her to a bed with the doek she had been wearing. The third man was too busy collecting the small possessions into a black sack, including their wallets, rings and their cellphones. When he was done, he gave a shout to his colleagues, “I’m done now, let’s go”. The darkened soul who had tied Wendy up replied, “I can’t go without having a taste of this sexy yellow-bone.” He began to undress her. As he was doing that Thabo gazed at them with tears oozing from his eyes, but a few seconds to the scene, something repressed him. He continued to stare at the three men, who were taking turns with his wife, but his heart no longer felt connected to this, his entire system had shut down. What happened on that night destroyed their marriage and left Thabo with the guilt. The feeling that he had failed his wife by watching her being raped by those three men who could not be shaken off. The experience left scars on Wendy, but the scars were just as horrible for Thabo––his manhood was stripped off in the presence of his wife. How was she ever going to trust him with their children? Will she ever see him as a man again?
The gender violence struggle is a battle of both men and women. For instance, when a woman is raped, the pain that she goes through does not become hers alone, men who surround her, who care for her feel as if they have failed her––as seen in the experience of Thabo and Wendy. The truth is we all have women who are the center of our lives, be it a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, or an aunt. The irony here is that the experience that took over Thabo and Wendy’s life might have appeared to victimize Wendy alone, but it was as much of a horrifying experience for Thabo. Gender violence victimizes all of us!