My daughter and her partner visited South Africa last month. It was a first time for him. They came back overwhelmed. The beauty of the country. The restaurants, the food, the service, the people. Boyfriend in particular spoke of how much he liked Johannesburg, against all expectations. I was gratified. I love Johannesburg.
For a day or two I was miffed. How could I have ever left? Had I made a mistake?
And then an email from a family member who mentioned casually that my father’s widow and her sister had been raped, badly beaten and burgled – these are women in their late sixties and early seventies. This happened sometime last year but apparently it wasn’t of sufficient interest to mention before. After all, they had survived. He had only thought to mention it as the perpetrators had been apprehended and were appearing in court that very week.
I am told the ladies have handled the trauma very well. My mother-in-law, when identifying her assailant and following instructions to touch him on the left shoulder with her left hand, had followed through with a ‘snotklap’ to his face, that had all but dropped him to his knees. Good for her.
I remembered why I left. And I got to thinking.
About Oscar Pistorius.
There are many issues on trial here. Violence against women being one of them. Like many people I have thought him guilty as all hell. But then again, having left South Africa years ago, in fear, I have no idea what it is like to live on the edge. To expect violence at every turn.
Oscar is on trial, but so is South Africa.