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16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

"I" Stories: Chased away for being disabled

Etty Khoza

2008-12-03, Issue 410

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/16days/52395

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I was born 3 of July 1955 at Katlehong and grew up with polio after being diagnosed when l was eight months old. I stayed at the Germiston Hospital, Baragwaneth, and later ended up in Natal-Spruit Hospital where they kept disabled people. In 1993, l received an RDP house. It was nice because l was working and l could do whatever l wanted. My house was very beautiful.

I was born 3 of July 1955 at Katlehong and grew up with polio after being diagnosed when l was eight months old. I stayed at the Germiston Hospital, Baragwaneth, and later ended up in Natal-Spruit Hospital where they kept disabled people. In 1993, l received an RDP house. It was nice because l was working and l could do whatever l wanted. My house was very beautiful.

In 2001 trouble started when my neighbour said to me, “Why can’t you go and stay where the disabled people are staying?” I was heartbroken and reported him to the street committee. We talked about it and he apologised. After two weeks, his kids broke my window with a ball, l told him about the incident, and he did not reply nicely. He said the kids were just playing and it is because I did not have a child that I complained.

After that, his kids started throwing tins and garbage in my yard. Most of the time l stayed in the house because if I went out I would be greeted by strong words that will hurt my heart. Whenever I wanted to go out, I would first look out through the window so that l don’t have to see him and he doesn’t have to see me. The painful thing was that l cannot run and even when I am locking the door, he can follow me, saying painful words that hurt.

One day I was coming from work. There is one road where l have to pass by his house. He made sure to see me and said, “Here is this disabled woman.” I ignored him and kept walking towards my house. Before l got home, he followed me with his car wanting to hit me. Lucky enough there were kids playing and they blocked the car as l passed.

When l was heading home my heart was broken and l was hurt, because he said to me that I am a disabled person, why am l working while his wife is not disabled but she is not working. At last, when l was nearing home he said to me, “Disabled grandmother today l want you in a box dead.” l just stood and stared at him.

I do not know why I became his target, if maybe he had a problem in his house and was solving it by abusing my feelings. I asked him, “Do l owe you anything so that l can pay you and you can leave me alone.” He did not want to listen to me.

He came to me and kicked me. I fell on the ground. While l was on the ground, he took my walking stick and hit me with it twice in my head. During this time, he was verbally abusing me and the blood was all over. l could not see where my walking stick was. I could not move and I needed someone to lift me up. God is there for us all, and at that moment, a man came and helped me to get up.

He looked for my walking stick and gave it to me. I went to the police station. When l arrived they sent me back saying l should go to the hospital because l was bleeding. At that time, it was too late and there was no taxis until in the morning. l realised that he was jealous of me, because I was working and had a house, though I could not understand why he was so jealous of a disabled person.

My mother said I should come home and my younger sister must go and stay at my house. That was in 2001. Okay no problem, I am still working and I have my life. But l would like it to get this memory out of my heart. I still have scars on my face that remind me of that day.

Many people they feel sorry for us because we are disabled. For me l am okay. l have the belief that God loves us all and if you believe, good things will be yours. However, I want to tell people, do not take people with disabilities for granted, we are human.

* This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence

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