Survivor story – Onica Mbaba

Seeking help During an early evening in April 2016, 59-year-old Onica Mbaba’s husband threatened her with a gun and threw her out of their family home. She describes the incident as the scariest moment of her life and the pinnacle of a marriage plagued by emotional and economical abuse. Gun violence survivor Onica describes herself as a God-fearing woman who married her teenage sweetheart in 1973. She says the highlight of their marriage was the birth of their two children. Onica says she thought she had married the love of her life until he changed a decade into their relationship: “In the first ten years of our marriage we were happy and blessed. We loved and respected each other. But later on things changed when he became emotionally abusive and would not support the family.” She adds that although he was not physically abusive she feared her husband because his behaviour was often erratic. Onica says that this unpredictable behaviour peaked one evening after the pair had a disagreement about money. “In the morning we had a misunderstanding. He hadRead More
A New Christine. In the early hours of the morning, Christine Buchanan’s reality was shattered as intruders broke into her home and shot both Christine and her husband.  She shares her story of survival.    “I awoke in the early hours of 29 December 2007 and saw intruders in our bedroom. I turned to alert my husband Charles. I expected Charles to tell me to do as I was told (I am the feisty one, he is the calm one) but to my utter surprise he jumped on the intruder closest to him and started screaming, hitting and punching him. I started hitting another intruder. I have no idea how much time passed; it seemed to take forever, yet was over in an instant. Suddenly I saw a flash of light, felt a stinging sensation at the base of my neck and fell down as I heard the gunshot. I heard a second shot and then they were gone. Charles had been pistol-whipped on the head and with blood pouring into his eyes he couldn’t see. I stayed calm and toldRead More
Dear Bullet In October 2001, 13-year old Sixolile Mbalo was raped, shot in the head and left for dead in an overflowing pit toilet by a man she had met once before. The harrowing account of the ‘incident’ and how it has affected her life is shared in her memoir, Dear Bullet Or A letter to my shooter, in immense detail.  She shares her life experience with the bullet – that is lodged in her neck – through the memoir. Even more powerful than the courage it took to write the book more than a decade later, is the strength that Sixolile harbours inside her body, a space that has been invaded but is still kept sacred and respected. Years after being viciously attacked, Sixolile had done the unthinkable but completely admirable action of not only facing her attacker but also working within the Western Cape’s prisons ‘sitting amongst groups of prisoners discussing themes such as forgiveness, respect and responsibility, and the effects of their crimes on their families, communities and society at large. This, before standing up before theRead More
  “Please God help me.” In August 2015, 32-year-old Brenda Nyala was shot and killed in a friends’ home by an intruder. The death of the young mother of three left her family reeling both emotionally and financially, as they tried to answer the why’s while picking up the pieces caused by the tragedy. “Please God help me.” These are the first words that left the lips of 63-year-old Mabel Nyala from Gugulethu when she was told that her daughter, Brenda, had been shot and killed. It was 3am as Mabel’s cell phone vibrated next to her as it rested on the bedside table. The voice on the other end of the line delivered news that would forever change the trajectory of Mabel’s life, as it told her that her beloved daughter had been fatally gunned down. The details that surround her death are sketchy, no one has been arrested and the investigation is continuing, but for the family that remains, no conclusion can bring peace to their hearts. “Brenda was my helping hand. She worked sometimes, but couldn’t findRead More