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Survivor story – Onica Mbaba

  • September 2016
  • Posted By GunFreeSA

onica-imageSeeking 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 had credit and used my name to get it without communicating with me. He did not want to discuss the matter and just walked away. Towards the evening he came home with his friends, they were drinking alcohol in the yard. They stopped at about 11pm and he came inside. I gave him some food and it seemed like he was enjoying it. I left him to eat, while I had a bath.”

She adds that she continued with her routine of praying after her evening bath.

“While I was praying in my children’s room, my husband came into the room and told me to “shut up”. He said that I was making a noise. I continued praying, but then he pulled my hair and I saw a gun pointed at me.”

Onica says that she was shocked when her husband began shouting at her.

“He looked at me and said: ‘I am going to kill you today,’. He called me a witch and threw me into the road.”

Retelling the events of the evening, Onica says that this was not the first time that her husband had threatened to kill her. But it was the first time he did it with a gun.

“I never knew he had a gun. It looked like one of those police guns like a pistol. I was always scared of him but I never thought he would do this.”

Fearful of what her husband could do to her, Onica knew that she needed help from the outside.

“I was in the road only wearing my night dress, I was scared and humiliated. I went to my neighbours house and called my brother and other siblings. Shortly after we called the police who came and arrested him – after that I got a restraining order against him.”

After the incident happened Onica says that her life has changed for the better.

“I sometimes have mixed feelings. A part of me feels ashamed of his behaviour and angry that my children had to witness that kind of violence. But I am happy that he no longer has control over my life. Since he has left I have peace of mind. I live my life without any fear.”

Onica says that there is so much she would like to say to women who are in abusive relationships.

“I advise women to seek professional help. They must leave before it is too late. For me the help that I was given by Ekupholeni has made such a difference in my life. Today, I am independent and living life.”

Onica is a beneficiary of the Ekupholeni Mental Health and Trauma Centre. Ekupholeni is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that provides psychosocial counselling to victims of trauma.

Gun Free South Africa thanks Ekupholeni for helping us bring Onica’s story to light and for assisting women across Johannesburg on their journey of healing.