A few weeks ago I wrote a story about Gladys Nester Ndebele and for some days I have been struggling to put myself together to write about her again. I am also struggling to put in words exactly how I feel about what happened to her. To say I am heartbroken is an understatement. I am angry and shattered and I keep asking myself why her. But it’s not just her, even President Ramaphosa said “Incidents of Gender Based Violence continue to stalk the country as men have declared war on women in South Africa.”
On the morning of 8 June 2020, I received a whatsapp message informing me that this woman we all affectionately know as Mam Nester was fighting for her life in Sebokeng Hospital. I had been talking to her three days before that. She wanted me to help her raise funds to buy and distribute dignity packs for women during this lockdown. I was shocked and shaken! What could have happened to her? What happened to her is the everyday toxic masculinity that women suffer.
I have known Mam Nester since 2013 and have worked quite closely with her at International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa (IANRA). I came to understand that she has a difficult relationship with her only child, an adult son. He abuses her physically, emotionally, psychologically and economically and this has gone on for a long time. On the fateful day, I am told he demanded money from her and when she refused, he violently went into a tirade spewing vitriol at her. In that moment, while he was in his drunken stupor, she made a decision- ENOUGH!!!
I say Mam Nester is not a statistic because to me she is a sister, a comrade, an activist and a freedom fighter. Nester stands for women’s rights and lives to make women’s lives better She is the National Convener of Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA). However, I can not deny the fact that she is one of the 6,651 cases of domestic violence reported so far during the lockdown. As a mother, I understand the difficult situation that Nester was faced with but on this day, she decided to stand up for herself and say no more of the abuse, and as her son resisted this a fight ensued and Mam Nester was severely burnt on her face, neck and chest.
Mam Nester fights against all forms of oppression against women and to see her fight such a personal struggle is heartbreaking. She is a strong leader who commands right from the trenches. A world free of injustice and inequality against women is what she envisions. We continue to raise the torch for Mam Nester as she recovers.
#GBV #ViolenceAgainstWomen #DomesticViolence #WomensLivesMatter