By: Poelano Malema
Gender-based violence continues to be in the spotlight in South Africa. Many women continue to be victims of rape and molestation.
Anna ‘Orekwele’ Mohlala’s painful story begins when she was a small girl being raised by her grandmother in a village in Limpopo.
The young girl says her mom got married and she was left to be raised by her grandmother.
Anna shares about the painful moment when a man she trusted took advantage of her and stole her innocence.
The 22-year-old says her first rape incident happened when she was in Grade 4 and on her way home from school.
“I got raped when I was in primary school,” says Annah.
She says she was raped by a man whom she trusted and often spoke to.
“He called my name and I stopped and we started walking together. He started by asking me why I have been turning down his proposal. I didn’t take him serious. I just thought he was joking. He pushed me down. He then told me today he is going to show me who he is. I still didn’t take him serious until he started taking off his clothes and penetrating me. I remember before he penetrated me, I told him ‘Don’t do that’.
“I told him to stop. I told him I am a virgin and he is going to hurt me, but he still penetrated me while I was crying, I was screaming,” she says.
Even when she screamed, there was no one to help her.
She says after the rape, she couldn’t walk, but had to crawl back home while bleeding.
“I didn’t tell my grandmother. I decided to keep quiet because she was not well,” says Annah.
She says from then on she started having vaginal bleeding and would fold T-shirts and use them as her sanitary towels.
Moving to stay with her mother
After a few years, Annah went to stay with her mother and step-father. Sadly, she says even while staying with her mom, she went through a lot of pain, being mistreated by her mother’s mother-in-law and later her step-dad.
“My mom, because she was in love, she was so blind to such an extent that she didn’t understand and she thought I’m a crybaby,” says Annah.
She says things became worse after her step-father started taking drugs.
“It was bad, because my dad started to take this drug (Nyaope),” says Annah.
She says her step-dad eventually kicked her out of the house to go look for her real father.
This is when she ran out of the house and went to hide under a bridge where she says four men came and gang raped her.
“Another lady came and helped me. She was a nurse, unfortunately she is no more. But she came and helped me,” says Annah.
She adds that the nurse took her to the social workers and they later took her home.
“Instead of my mom trying to understand my situation. She stood by my dad that I am a crybaby,” says Annah.
“I realised there was no one who could help me.”
Raped by strangers
Annah says the condition at home remained the same and she eventually moved out to stay with another family.
She says one afternoon she decided to go to the shops and was kidnapped by two men.
“I decided to go outside to go buy pads. Since being raped, I’m always bleeding. There was this car, I don’t know what happened, but I know that they stopped, took me in and took me to a strange place. They penetrated me. They were two. They moved from that place to another. They penetrated me again,” she says.
She says they later dropped her at an unknown place, but she found her way home.
“I went back home. I didn’t say anything that day, but the following day is when I spoke up and said this is what happened,” she says.
Annah says she is grateful to the woman who has adopted her.
She says her life has been very difficult.
“To be honest, it is very difficult. Now I am adopted by pastor Rose Malepe. So it is difficult for me. Sometimes I get angry without any reason. It is hard for me to be honest. I’d get flashbacks. Sometimes I’d scream at night. Sometimes I don’t want to talk to anyone,” she says.
However, in the midst of all the pain she is going through, Annah says she believes she can still make it in life.
She says even those who have been raped must never give up.
“Be strong. It has happened. It is okay. That’s a fact and reality, but then be strong. Trust in God that even if it happened, you are still beautiful. You can still make it, no matter what. As long as God is on your side, no one will be against you,” she concludes.