A 43-year-old woman who was raped and stabbed three times in her spine, has been left disabled, paralysed in her right arm and left leg, and unable to speak.
Andiswa, not her real name, from Site C Khayelitsha, was attacked and raped two years ago on her way to work.
Since the incident, she can do little herself. When GroundUp visited Andiswa in her one-room shack, she could not speak at all, but only made sounds to indicate yes or no. She gave the impression of being a cheerful person and seemed glad to have visitors.
Her neighbour said that before the incident, Andiswa was a domestic worker and went to work every day. She lived a normal life like any hardworking mother who has a family to take care of.
As her neighbour described the incident, Andiswa became restless. She wanted to say something, but she could not form any words. She showed the scar tissue from the three stab wounds near her spine.
During the day, she looks after her 2-year-old granddaughter and waits for her 7-year-old son, Thobile, to return from school. Her eldest daughter works all day at a restaurant.
She receives a disability grant, which must cover her household costs.
Since she cannot prepare food, the family eats bread until her daughter returns from work. The neighbour said sometimes the 7-year-old makes his own food.
Andisiwa’s home is tiny for a whole family. The four of them sleep on the same bed with only two blankets. The zinc roof sheets have holes. The paraffin heater is broken. They are too afraid to make an open fire.
There is a portable toilet inside the house but it is difficult for Andisiwa to use as she struggles to balance herself because of her paralysis.
Local community leader, Xolani Dywili, said the family’s situation was unfortunate. “I think as the community we have to stand together and protect the women. Due to this incident, her dreams are shattered, but she has to be strong so that she is able to take care of her family in her condition.”
Dywili said the community would try to raise donations to assist the family and also extend their one-room shack.
– Names have been changed in this article. News24