It is a normal Sunday afternoon and I have just accompanied a relative to catch a taxi. She had visited my mom but unfortunately for her she didn’t let her know beforehand and my mother had already gone to church by the time she arrived.
As I was on my way back home after accompanying her I stumbled upon a scene no one ever wants to witness, but is all too common in our country. A man started beating up a lady he was with. For a moment there I was thankful that there were people, mostly adults, on the street as they would stop this barbaric behavior taking place in broad daylight on a day taken as holy by most South Africans. As I was standing there, waiting and hoping that at least one of the many men there would do something about it I realised that they were all standing, watching and analyzing and no one was willing to intervene.
What made the situation bad was the fact that this lady was with a younger girl who seemed to be not older than 12 years of age. I can only assume it was her daughter. I was shocked that he was brave enough to do that on the side of a busy road, but what made my stomach turn was that the many people there – especially men who were strong enough to stop him – were actually standing and watching as it happened.
As I realised that my elders were not about to help out I then decided to talk to the man I now classify as a monster. I then screamed out: “Aowa buti.”
I thought a chorus would follow but there was none of that. Instead those who had turned this tragedy into entertainment just kept quiet. There was complete silence and all one could hear was the couple that was fighting at this stage. The analysis of the situation from the bystanders had completely stopped.
The guy looked at me and I told him to think of the child standing next to the lady but his arrogance made my blood boil. He told me to stay out of his business and that was when I told him that a child will always be my business, especially when they are subjected to abuse.
If this is what happens in our societies then monsters who abuse women and children will multiply because the younger generation will get an impression that harassing women and children is actually a good thing as no one ever does anything about it.
Maybe the many anti abuse campaigns that we see in the media are not working. Maybe the community just doesn’t understand that hitting and hurting a woman in abuse. Maybe I am the stupid one for speaking out on such a sight on the side of the road. Maybe, just maybe. But I will not keep quiet and watch a man hit a woman on the side of the road especially if she is with a child and those watching think they are at an amusement park.