by Lungile Dladla
They call February the month of love, I call it the month of change…
In February 2010, I was walking with Mathapelo (one who prays) along Swazi street.
It was around 7pm, a few hours after my aunt’s funeral. My friend was accompanying me to my house and the street was not busy that day. A guy came walking in the opposite direction, we paid no attention to him because we did not think of anything bad. In a blink of an eye he was right behind us with a gun, he said “futsek nina siya le manje” (voetsek, we going that direction now) shaking & scared we listened to him.
He led us to a field. The strange thing about him was that he knew the place so well that he told us exactly where to walk because that place has dangerous holes we could fall in. When we got to his place of horror he instructed us to lie on the ground face down and hands behind our backs. We did as told because we feared for our lives as he had a gun in his hand and threatening to use it if we did not do as he said. He undressed us and said “today ngizoni khipha ubutabane.”
I said a little prayer because I knew what was coming after. He then tied both our hands and feet. My friend kept on negotiating with him not to rape us and I was absentminded the whole time. It felt like my body was there but my mind was so far away.
I just remember my friend saying “please if you rape us use a condom”.
He asked why was I wearing guys clothes, my tongue was tied, I couldn’t say anything, so I kept quiet. He covered our faces with our clothes then he started raping my friend, when he was done he then untied my feet spread my legs apart and forcefully penetrated me, I was crying and praying. When he was done he got dressed and said “Am going now, I will tell you when you should go” Then he started walking, I could hear his movements as he was moving through the grass, from a distance he told us to get dressed and go. We tried to untie each other’s hands then dressed up, in the dark we managed to get out of those fields.
Then I told my friend that am going straight to the police station. It was around 11pm. She said it was too risky but I told her that I did not care…
We got to the police station; the police officers took us to some room.
We told them what happened and as we talking they stopped and asked me “nawe you were raped? How? That is impossible, you‘re a guy!” what they said hurt me even more.
I then asked them how I could be male namabele (with breasts)!
“If it was not for the girl I used to go to school with, those stupid people would have not taken my statement. “
They told us they did not have a crime kit yet but the police station is next to the clinic. As they were taking our statements one of the officers said that it’s not the first time they heard of a rape case in that area. In my mind I thought “why then didn’t you go patrol the veld”. We left the police station around 12-1am. I could not sleep that night as I could smell that guy on my body. In the morning we went back to the police for the tests, they took them, gave us some pills then told us to go, they will call us.
Time went and they never called until Kaya FM covered my story and demanded to know what happened, they told them that the case was closed because the suspect is unknown. A year later, the case was reopened; they found the guy and arrested him. In court it was revealed that he had been charged with 17 cases of rape. He got life sentence for all his crime. I cannot say I was happy with that but it was better than nothing.
When I thought that the worst has past, hell broke loose as my life turned upside down.
I was not treated well at home and I got very sick in December 2011 due to stress.
In January 2012 I was admitted in hospital, I was very sick and I thought I was dying.
The doctors did a string of tests to figure out what was wrong with me. The tests came back and I was diagnosed HIV positive. On top of that I had lung infection & PCP Pneumonia, at that point I could not breathe nor walk, I thought it was the end of me.
I stayed in hospital for two months, and when I was discharged my CD4 count was a single digit, everyone thought I was not going make it. However, I started taking ARV’s and I must say I am healthy than ever before, my CD4 count is over 300 and my viral load is low.
One thing I still need to overcome though is the fact that whenever I take my medication, I am reminded of what the bastard did to me!
However, my inner self is strong, am going to beat this. HIV is not my life, am not going to let it get to me.
I am not a Victim but a Victor…
About the author
Lungile Dladla, is a young South African black butch lesbian gender activist, singer, survivor, lover and daughter.
An active member of EPOC (Vutha), Daveyton. Johannesburg.
Related articles featuring Lungile’s story.
Faces and Phases: Portraits from South Africa’s Lesbian Community
May 28, 2012
LETTER FROM SOUTH AFRICA
A nation confronts a tide of sexual violence.
By Charlayne Hunter-Gault
Conversation with Lungile Dladla on Corrective Rape in South Africa