“Mama!” Khanyiswa wails, rocking her body back and forth in her hunched position. “He can’t … I won’t … I won’t,” she whimpers. Then, “You won’t touch me!” she screams, scrambling off the bed. She wiggles into her mother’s arms and clings to her.

“Please provide us with a female doctor,” Mrs Sibewu demands, looking at the nurse and doctor.

“Mrs Sibewu, I’m Doctor Davids. Unfortunately, I’m the only doctor available at the moment.”

“Then we’ll wait until a female doctor becomes available,” Mrs Sibewu responds.

“You have every right to ask for a female doctor, Ma’am,” Doctor Davids says, nodding. “If circumstances were different, I’d step back. But it’s crucial that we collect samples as soon as possible, and I’m highly qualified to perform this task,” he assures her.

“Not if it means placing my daughter under distress,” Mrs Sibewu insists.

“I could give Khanyiswa something to help her relax. And Nurse Carmen can assist with the more private procedures,” Doctor Davids offers.

Mrs Sibewu nods in agreement before loosening Khanyiswa’s grip on her. Holding her child’s face in both hands, Mrs Sibewu looks Khanyiswa in the eyes. “I will never allow anyone to hurt you in my presence, Khanyiswa. I know you’re scared, but I need you to be brave, my girl. Remember that Sara Bareilles song that you like?” Mrs Sibewu says softly. “Show me how big your brave is,” she sings.

Khanyiswa can’t help smiling; Mrs Sibewu has a lovely singing voice.

“Ewe. Mama. I will show you!”

“I need to ask you a few questions, Khanyiswa. They might be difficult for you to answer, but you have to be honest,” Dr Davids says, after giving her an injection to help her relax.

Khanyiswa nods.

“Have you been sexually active before today?”

“No,” Khanyiswa responds. “He … he took it away…” she murmurs. “My … treasure. He stole it.”

“Do you know what oral sex is?” Dr Davids continues questioning her.

Khanyiswa lowers her eyes and nods. “At school, they told us about these things. And safe sex.”

“Did your teacher force himself on you in that manner, Khanyiswa?

She shakes her head.

After collecting evidence from beneath her fingernails, Dr Davids asks Khanyiswa to lie down.

“This part is very important, Khanyiswa,” says Dr Davids. “I know it’s very upsetting for you, but without it we can’t hope to send him to prison.”

Khanyiswa presses her hands over her face. “I understand, doctor,” she mutters. “Please let Nurse Carmen speak to me. Then it will seem like she’s doing the examination,” she requests.

“That’s very clever, Khanyiswa,” Doctor Davids responds, and nods to the nurse.


“OK, Khanyiswa. I need you to open your legs, please,” the nurse instructs.

Khanyiswa shakes her head and clamps her legs closed.

“Take your time. We’re all here to help you,” Nurse Carmen encourages her.

I just wanna see you, I just wanna see you, I just wanna see you, I wanna see you be brave,” Mrs Sibewu sings quietly in Khanyiswa’s ear.

I can do this. I will send that pig to the Crossbar Hotel. He will never hurt another girl again, Khanyiswa thinks throughout the examination, focusing on Nurse Carmen’s voice.


Tell us: How does it make you feel to read this scene? How especially do you feel about Khanyiswa’s mother?