Ruth Moyeni could have easily become another statistic of women killed by their partners, but she survived.
And though grateful to be alive, she is emotionally wounded and bitter with the system which she says failed her as the man who almost killed her is walking free.
For five years 39 -year-old Moyeni shared her living space with her abusive partner.
“Although things were extremely difficult I hung in there thinking it was better to be with the devil I knew. I was the bread winner and played the role of being a partner and a provider,” said Moyeni, casting her mind back to the pain she had endured.
Like many couples; Moyeni and her partner had their challenges.
“Initially when he absconded from work I thought it was only for a short time. He had complained of the bitter cold and opted to take on part time jobs instead of holding down full time employment.”
This meant a severe salary cut and to make matters worse, the family was never the recipient of his wages. Attempts to discuss the situation were met with hostility and often the couple would argue resulting in Moyeni taking a step back to keep the peace.
“It would be pointless to try discuss the matter and so I would postpone the conversation to another day. A year passed and many more and the situation did not get any better. I figured that since he had introduced me to his family and we had a child together in addition to the two from previous relationships, I was better off trying to make the relationship work.”
Moyeni heavily relied on her aunt to help with her two older kids whilst the youngest was taken in by her boyfriend’s mother when their living conditions deteriorated.
On a security job salary Moyeni struggled to pay all the bills.
“I stretched my little pay as much as I could. It was never enough but still I pushed. I worked long hours and would often get home exhausted and hungry. Then face a partner that flatly refused to work,” she said looking into the horizon with weary eyes.
It was questioning her partner on this that would often get him angry but Moyeni never suspected she was in any grave danger.
On the fateful day that changed her life for the worst, Moyeni had gotten home and did the laundry.
“My partner was home with some friends and paid no attention to me. There was absolutely nothing to eat and I thought to myself I would once more need to part with my last thebe saved for transport to at least get some bread.”
Moyeni says she was surprised when her partner put pots on the stove indicating that he was going to cook.
“He pulled out a plastic and went on to prepare some porridge. I was livid as I realized that this was an everyday affair. The friends will bring some food to be prepared on the stove and gas I bought but I never enjoyed these spoils as none was ever kept for me”.
She recalls that it was questioning her partner on this that got him really mad.
“He accused me of disrespecting him and threatened that he would teach me a lesson. He then scooped some of the hot porridge with a cup and approached me. As I was on the bed, I pulled a blanket over myself. I stayed there for a bit and when I thought he had left I uncovered myself only to feel the hot porridge on my face.”
In pain, Moyeni screamed for help as her partner proceeded to kick and punch her with fists.
Despite there being company, no one came to her rescue. She wrestled with her partner and managed to escape into the yard where she fled to the landlord’s house begging for shelter.
“To my horror, the woman told me it was not her problem and literally kicked me out.”
Moyeni took to the street running for dear life and eventually found help at some bar.
She was then taken to the clinic to be attended to. In the company of the police she was taken back to her place where her partner was. Following exchange of words between the partner and the police, the partner reluctantly agreed to go the police station.
“Though in pain, I was relieved to be in the company of police officers. Never in my wildest dream had I anticipated the turn of events that would shortly follow.”
All Moyeni recalls is reaching for the door of the police vehicle and abruptly feeling weak.
“I felt a sharp pain at the back of my neck and was on the ground. I had been stabbed with a knife.”
Six year later, Moyeni is still to find closure.
“I was hospitalized for four months and the doctors had told me there was a slim chance of full recovery if at all I lived. I did live but my life was never the same.”
Moyeni’s spinal injuries rendered her semi paralyzed.
“I spent a year under the care of my aunt. Legal proceedings stalled as I was not well and when I was in a state to attend to the matter I was told the man who had caused this could not be found. He had been incarcerated for a year but as there were no charges laid against him he was released on bail. However I have seen him on several occasions and alerted the police in but never received a satisfactory response as to why he has not been arrested.”
“I have since lost my only brother who was determined to follow through the case and with the constant pain it became difficult to make the frequent trips to the Mogoditshane police station to get updates. The system has failed me and I am truly a broken woman.”
Although grateful for the kind gesture of her current employer who offered her a job despite her disability; Moyeni painfully says “It’s hard but I have to work and provide for my children.
On some days the pain is so severe I struggle to bathe and get dressed let alone go to work yet the man who did this to me is roaming the streets freely.
I get nightmares wondering if he would one day come to finish me off.”