A number of men in the country are abused by their partners and suffer in silence. Nthebe Sgidie Kwape has broken the silence and tells Mmegi Correspondent, ISAAC PINIELO, of his agony of three arduous months.
“I was bruised, broken, stripped and humiliated, all in the name of love. I don’t know what’s worse – the pain or the shame,” he recalls.
Relating his ordeal, 25-year-old Kwape assumes a sullen look with pain written all over his face. At his age, he has already encountered evils that others can only imagine. “It was in 2011 when I met Lesedi [not her real name]. I was attracted to her good looks and beautiful body. She looked innocent and so traditional. Just the kind of woman any man would want to have,” he says with a forced smile.
The two became an inseparable item. One day, Lesedi went to his rented house in Tlokweng, crying and saying that her parents had disowned her.
“Well, I was hurt to see her crying like that and I never bothered to ask her why her parents had disowned her. All I wanted was to comfort her. So I took the risk and accommodated her in my house,” he says. The duo stayed together for about three months while Lesedi was busy applying for tertiary education. She managed to get a scholarship and was immediately enrolled in a well-known tertiary school.
According to Kwape, everything changed after the girl received her first tertiary school living allowance of P1,420, which he says she wasted in a three-day spree.
“She came back home, after three days of being nowhere to be found. I didn’t bother to ask her where she was all those days. Our life just went on as if nothing had happened,” he explains, attempting to conceal his emotions.
He also reveals that as they continued living together, Lesedi bought herself a cell phone, which brought nothing but unhappiness in their relationship. “The phone really got into her head. It took all her attention away and she no longer had time for me, yet she always demanded money for lunch and transport,” he recalls.
He says things got worse when Lesedi started controlling his finances. “She would complain that I was wasting my money, yet she knew that I was taking care of my ailing mother who was hospitalised at the time. She insisted that we needed to buy household items for our house, which was the very same house she would abandon every Friday morning only to return early Monday,” he says.
As if that was not enough, Kwape says Lesedi confiscated all his personal belongings, including an ATM card, Omang and other valuable items.
He says she would fly into a fit of jealousy, grab his cell phone while he was talking to someone and smash it against the wall. As a result, Kwape lost three of his phones, which were damaged beyond repair. “Every time I bought myself some clothes, she would tear them up as she would insinuate that one of my ‘side’ girlfriends bought them for me,” he says.
As the relationship regressed, Kwape says his girlfriend erased all the numbers of his friends on his phone and further blocked or deleted any number she was suspicious of. The abuse became too much to bear and the 25-year-old began indulging dark habits and even darker habits.
“This really depressed me that sometimes I thought of committing suicide, but gave up on the idea when I thought of my family,” he says.
Because of the abuse, Kwape says he started abusing drugs and alcohol to mollify the emotional suffering he was going through. Not only did he lose weight, Kwape indicates that he also lost his dignity as a man. “I wasn’t only abused, but I was disrespected as well.
She had gone too far to the extent of being dropped at home by other guys in the wee hours of the morning. I could hear from their noise that they are drunk and they would stand outside the door before they kiss goodbyes on
It was only a matter of time before Kwape could pluck his courage. Hiding behind the phone, Kwape sent text messages to Lesedi telling her that they should break up.
“She agreed and asked me accompany her to my place so she could collect her belongings,” he says. Little did he know that this was a trap – he was about to have a rude awakening. As they got home, Kwape says he went straight to the wardrobe to take out Lesedi’s belongings.
He says as he was busy packing up clothes in the wardrobe, with his head inside, Lesedi allegedly closed the door, locked it and threw the key out the burglar-barred window.
He narrates that she then disconnected the pipe linking the cylinder gas to the stove and opened the cylinder knob to let the highly flammable gas out of the cylinder. While at it, Kwape says she poured water into the electric kettle and boiled it and then took a matchstick and lit it. He says: “I struggled with her to put out the burning matchstick, and we both landed on top of the bed causing the bedding to catch fire.”
As he tried to put out the fire on the bed, Lesedi grabbed the kettle with the boiling water and splashed it towards him but missed.
The scuffle continued with Lesedi reaching for a fork, which she used to stab Kwape between his right thumb and the index finger, causing a gush of blood from the deep gash.
“The pain from the stab wound weakened me and I felt as if I was going to die. With my hand heavily bleeding, I was caught between trying to put off the fire on the bed and shutting down the oozing cylinder,” explains Kwape.
Suffocating and enduring the heat inside the house, Kwape says he was at the brink of conceding defeat. He says at that moment Lesedi was rambling on going around the house like a mad woman.
She yelled at him: “So, o tsaya gore o ka ntlhala motlhofo jaana? Ngwanyana yoo go boneng o itiile, re tlile go swela fa rotlhe [So, you think you are going to get rid of me this easily? The girl who’s causing you to do this is just wasting her time. We are going to die in this house together].” As fate would have it, there was a student passing outside the house to which Kwape screamed at the top of his voice for help. The student then came running and broke open the locked door and put out the fire. Heaving a sigh of relief, Kwape sat outside the house imagining what could have happened had the student not come to his rescue.
His alleged assailant, Lesedi also sat outside the house shedding crocodile tears and pretending that she was the victim of the whole fracas.
Because of the brawl, Kwape says his landlord evicted him from the house.
“I moved from the house, changed numbers and blocked her on Facebook. It was a difficult step to take, however, with time I managed to get on with my life,” he says. Kwape also notes that he has long forgiven Lesedi as he says the calmness of his heart is worth more than the feeling of holding grudges.
“I am just grateful that I am still alive and my life has gone back to normal if not better,” he says.
Today, Kwape is a proud man to have had the guts to come out and share his ordeal. In a big picture of women who abuse men, Kwape could be one of many statistics swimming against the tide.
In his view, abuse of men in relationships is neglected, either by the victims or those reported to. He questions why the 16 days of activism against gander-based violence focuses less on men.