Trigger Warning: This article contains sensitive narration that may trigger one with similar experiences.

The #16DaysNotEnoughCampaign shares the personal experiences of women who have gone through subtle abuses like gaslighting, crazy-making, pathological lying, excuses, and hypocrisy which has been normalised in our societies. ACTIVATE! Supports the fight against gender-based violence. This is the raw experience of a woman in her own words narrated to a friend.

Writer: Zilungile Zimela (She writes the story of a recent victim and survivor)


It was a Friday morning with absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. I had gone to see a friend in Pimville and decided to first go to the furniture shop to check out their carpets, as I needed one for myself. The furniture shop had been closed and so I decided to take a taxi. The queue had been long and there was a taxi idling by. One of the gentlemen who had been standing next to the taxi beckoned me to take the taxi, it was a convenient solution as this taxi was not going to wait for a lot of people. Almost pushed from behind in subtle haste from the same gentleman, I got in. On settling down in the taxi, I felt this great and uncomfortable thirst on my palate. Conveniently, the taxi had water and I drank some. As we drove, the taxi took a left turn and not the expected right turn, towards Maponya Mall.

I enquired about this while experiencing a sudden state of blurred vision and wooziness and he told me that he will be picking up people on the way. People were jumping on and off of the taxi, I cannot recall how many as I passed out along the way.

When I woke up and did not quite feel like myself. My vision was blurred, but I saw some buildings. The neighborhood was synonymous to Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg notorious neighborhoods. I looked around for a trace of something familiar and I realised that I was in a brothel and a shop with the word, Maxi. While trying to put the pieces together, I noted that my bankcard was being tempered with, multiple amounts in the rations of R300, R400, and R500 were being withdrawn from my account.

I was in and out of consciousness and that does not help with my account of the events of the incident. I cannot say for sure what happened to me on that day. On Sunday, I found myself looking for a taxi to take me to my cousin’s place. I saw a person in a meter taxi and asked him to take me. My speech was impaired and I tried to write down some information about myself on a piece of paper. He took me and dropped me close to Spar. That’s when I saw my cousins walking outside their place of residence on the same street.

In and out of consciousness, I realised that it was Monday. In an attempt to find help for myself I went to Bree (a place in Johannesburg) to take a taxi. I cannot recall at what point I landed in the streets but I found myself there and subsequently slept there. In and out of memory, I found myself in Fine Town and I do not know how I got there. Amidst all the commotion and the frustration of not being able to remember the events chronologically, I found myself in hospital. They ran tests and found traces of semen in my system. My biggest worry at this point was being pregnant. I mean I could barely take care of myself, how was I going to be able to take care of another human being? It became clear that the guys who were in the taxi had drugged me. I later went to the police station to report the matter. I arrived at the police station at 10:00 am and I was attended to at 08:00 pm. To my surprise, the police officer who was taking down my statement asked me what he should write… or advise how he should proceed? I was now expected to show him how to do his job.

The police informed me that the matter was out of their jurisdiction and that they would refer the matter to the Hillbrow police station. The only medication I remember taking at the hospital was antibiotics. I want to remember but I cannot. I try so hard but the gaps are just too far apart to mend. I wanted to remember how many men there were. I want to know who took turns on me and if they used protection. I cannot remember.

As a social worker and gender based activist, I blame myself.

The healing process is to shut down for now. I try to keep busy but, most times I try not to find times for reflection. I do not know how to move on and the question of how many men took turns on me, still haunts me and hurts very deeply. I want to heal, and possibly forget but, how can I. It hurts, more than words could describe.



ACTIVATE! is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa. Connecting youth who have the skills, sense of self and spark to address tough challenges and initiate innovative and creative solutions that can reshape our society.

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