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Raped Eastern-Cape woman: Was I a ‘settler who had to be killed’?

Political rhetoric and feelings of racial revenge fuel the horrific violence in South Africa, including violence against women and children. The story of Nicky, a white farmer's wife raped by a black attacker, has shocked the country and the world.

Published: June 19, 2019, 3:49 pm

    With South African government rhetoric around confiscating land from white farmers rising a notch every week, more and more farm attacks are taking place, including ones in which the wives of farmers are mercilessly raped and killed. Nicky, 45, a farmer’s wife in the Eastern Cape managed to survive a gun attack but was raped in her wounded state in front of her children.

    Her rapist, Sebenzile Simane, 32, was recently sentenced to a total of 173 years and two life sentences in prison. All counts will run concurrent to the life sentence.

    According to police spokesman, Colonel Priscilla Naidu, “the accused will effectively serve a life sentence in prison”.

    Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga, the provincial police comissioner, has “welcomed the lengthy jail sentence handed down to an accused sentenced on 06 June 2019 in the Port Elizabeth High court on  17 counts including rape, housebreaking, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, possession of  a firearm and ammunition, attempted murder as well as forcing a minor to watch a sexual act.”

    On 23 March 2018, the 44-year-old victim and her children were alone at home on a citrus farm in Hankey, with her husband away on a hunting weekend. Simane attacked the family without warning, shoot through windows and gaining entry to the house by shooting to pieces the lock on a patio door.

    Nicky felt that she and here children were being hunted by Simane.

    “With the bullets smashing through the windows I can only describe our feeling as being hunted like wild animals,” Nicky said. “What followed I can only describe as four hours of pure hell – just sick torture and depravity.

    “He held the gun to my nine-year-old son’s head and threatened to shoot him unless I complied.

    “I told my little one to be quiet or else this man would kill us. All I saw were his silent tears rolling down his little cheeks for the next four hours. The sight of that will be with me forever.

    “He tied us all up with fencing wire so tight that our hands lost their circulation and turned grey.

    “He shouted at my children that he was there to kill their father and that he would chop him up in front of them. He said that when he came through the door they would watch him butchered.

    “He then repeatedly threatened to shoot my eldest son’s feet off if he didn’t obey him and then ordered him to rape me. I had never heard such a sick thing before and was totally mortified.

    “All I could do was beg him not to make my son do that. He just kept pointing the gun at my son’s feet and saying he would shoot them unless he raped his mum in front of his brother and sister.

    “I begged and pleaded with him not to do this and to take me to another room and take me instead.”

    Nicky then went on to describe how she was raped by Semane: “He grabbed me and forced me to my bedroom and raped me there. There was blood everywhere as I had already been badly shot. I could do nothing as my hands were tied behind my back.

    “He then brought my 13-year-old daughter to the bedroom, undressed her and attempted to rape her. He was sexually molesting her and all I could do was beg for mercy and to take me again.

    So instead of raping her he forced my beautiful innocent daughter to watch as he raped me again.

    “I cannot describe the anger this man displayed toward us and I knew as he raped me that if my children had any chance of survival I had to get this man away from them and the farm house.

    “You don’t care about yourself – you just don’t want your children to die and you do all you can.”

    In order to lure the black rapist away from her children, Nicky then offered him money: ‘He had tried to start our car outside but couldn’t get it going so in a bid to buy my family time I told him to take my bank cards and pin numbers and to let me drive him to town to the ATM.

    “He tied up my children even tighter even though their hands were already grey from no circulation.

    “I drove into town and got him my maximum 4,000 rand which was just before midnight so he told me to drive to a quiet spot until after midnight when the ATM would allow him to use the card again.

    “He undid my seat belt and told me to recline the seat so he could rape me again but I was so weak from the loss of blood I told him that if he raped again I would almost certainly bleed to death.

    “I told him it was 12.04am and that the ATM would give him another 4,000 rand and to please just take my cards and take his money and let me drive to hospital where I could get help.

    “Once he was out of our VW transporter I hit the accelerator and drove back to the farm and found the children had freed themselves and called a neighbour and that help had reached them.

    “I hugged my brave and petrified children but despite what had happened to us all and the emotional and physical torture he had put us through we were all alive and that was the important thing. For us as parents the saddest part of this is that we can never give our children their innocence back. That creature took it. The children and I will never be able to live on that farm again.”

    The family now lives in a rented house in the city. Her husband Heine stays in their empty house on the farm during the week, but armed to the death.

    Nicky and her entire family plan to move to Australia soon. The farm is for sale, even though it has been in the same family for over a hundred years.

    “His bullets ran out, that is why we are still alive today,” said Nicky.

    Fearing that she had been exposed to HIV during the rape, Nicky had to take antiretroviral medication for three months. It gave her diarrhoea, 18 times a day, but she persisted, regarding it is as a kind of “crutch” for the mental confusion the attack had left her with.

    “I was scared of the court case,” she said. “I had never been to a court before. But not scared of my attacker. I had completely switched off regarding him, even that he was a human being.”

    She concluded by saying: “The attack was well prepared, as if hy someone had told him how to do it.  It was planned well in advance, which made me wonder: Were we the settlers who had to be killed this time?”

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