‘After All These Years, All That Silence Has Done Is Empower the Abusers’


Someone once asked, ‘ As a girl child, when was the first time you felt sexualised?’ my answer: I was five.

I remember being forced to be ‘respectful’ and greet the slimy potbellied uncle sitting at the head of the table. His beard scraping my tender cheek as he went in for his kiss. The kiss he felt he deserved. His wet sloppy lips lingering just a second too long on my mouth. I immediately felt physically ill and spent the rest of the evening attached to my mother’s side.

Harrowing, explicit and raw.

I have just watched a personal account of paedophilia at the hands of a trusted male relative. It was harrowing, explicit and raw. A too familiar tale of innocence lost, destined to spend a lifetime seeking answers, hoping for healing and to be believed by the people you love.

The 15-minute video, posted to Youtube on Wednesday 21 October exposes two of Bo-Kaap’s elite. ‘Esteemed’ men of the community. Freedom fighters. Educated. Men, disguised behind a false sense of trustworthiness and charisma. 

The Cape-Town born woman, who currently resides in Jordan, is said to be the granddaughter of one of the accused. She braves the camera and speaks of disturbing events, of being locked in the garage, touched inappropriately and waking up without underwear. “Pinned to the bed, he would hold my wrists above my head, his knees would be pushing into my thighs and I couldn’t move”, she explains. My skin crawls. 

Her face is hidden but it does not lessen the punch-to-the-gut feeling the content evokes. Her hidden face amplifies the content and delivery. She could be anyone, she could be your daughter, she could be you. 

“I am doing this so that it stops, I am not asking for anything other than for you to keep your children away from these men…”

She reveals that this is not the first time she has spoken of her abuse. Three years ago she shared a #metoo post on Facebook but chose not to name her abuser. She has since learnt that she is not the only survivor and numerous other innocent girls and women have fallen prey to the twin brothers.  

When she threatened to go public last year, she was told that her abuser, her paternal grandfather would be put under house arrest. She realised that this was a lie used to silence her. 

After being told that there was nothing she could do, turning to the power of social media was her last resort. Ending off the video, she said, “I refuse to be guilted, ashamed or threatened into being silent because, after all these years, all that silence has done is empower the abusers.”

The Muslim community and especially the people of Bo Kaap are in an uproar because of the allegations. I am very interested to see how, in 2020, they will choose to respond. 

Thank you to the woman behind the camera lens. Thank you from all the girl children and women who have been silenced into carrying the secrets of their abusers, but are now encouraged to tell the truth because of you. 

*These are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Vannie Kaap News.