Her own husband and Apartheid soldiers took turns to rape her and infect her with HIV while her son was watching

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After being raped by the apartheid soldiers and getting HIV, all I wanted was support from my husband, but what I got were insults.”

This is according to Nontobeko Mbenzi, 63, from Engcobo, Eastern Cape, whose late husband raped her during their marriage.

Mbenzi got infected after she was gang raped by apartheid soldiers in the 1990s.

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With tears streaming down her face, Mbenzi shared her painful story with Sunday World about how her husband forced her to have sex with him. “I would be tired and my body would be in pain, but he would still insist on having sex with me because we were married,” she said.

Mbenzi said she was forced into an arranged marriage “ukuthwala” when she was only 15 years old. “Ukuthwala” is the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage, often with the consent of their parents.

Mbenzi said she had other plans for her life, and getting married at a young age was not one of them. “I wanted to go to school and continue with my education, but instead I was forced into marriage,” she said.

Mbenzi said after she was brutally raped in 1991 in Thokoza, East Rand, all she wanted was support from her husband, but she never got it.

Instead, he often reminded her how he had paid lobola for her, and that he could do what he wanted with her.

“When I told him I had contracted HIV, he still insisted I sleep with him. He told me he also wanted to get sick.”

“He insulted me, called me all sorts of names for being raped. Every time he wanted to have sex with me and I told him I am not feeling well, he would tell me I refuse to sleep with him because I want to sleep with my boyfriends [meaning the soldiers],” she said.

This happened regularly during their 48-year marriage until her husband died in 2017.

Her situation also negatively affected their first-born child, who witnessed both her rape and the abuse she suffered at the hands of his father.

“He turned out to be a drunkard, he is violent and angry” she said.

Mbenzi is amember of Khulumani Support Group, a nongovernmental organisation that connects victims of abuse to share their experiences with each other.

Members of the support group in the East Rand meet weekly at the home of their convener, Noma-Russia Bos- ane, in Phola Park, Thokoza.

Mbenzi saidshe wasgrateful for the support from Khulumani. Knowing she was not the only woman who had been raped made her feel better.


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