That day at church was just the tip of the iceberg. Parents at the pre-school complained to Mma Thipe about me. Mma Thipe took me in the office. “You know I like you, Vivian, and I know these people are just gossiping, but I thought maybe you could take a bit of time off. You know, to sort yourself out and all. A month or so.”

“A month? But I need this job. I need the money for university.”

“OK listen, I’ll pay you half salary. There’s nothing I can do. Parents are threatening to take their kids out of the school. We need to let it all die down a bit. After that your job will be waiting for you. I’m sorry, Vivian. It’s just business.”

Maybe she was right. It was becoming more and more difficult for me to find the courage to step out of the house. People talked and stared. One night they threw eggs at our house. Aunty Resego got all sorts of comments at work. I suspected Bibi did as well, but she never told me.

I went home and just as I started cooking lunch there was a knock on the door. I opened it without checking who it was and there was Bonolo. He pushed me back into the house and kicked the door closed behind him.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” he said. He had me held against the wall and everything about that night came flooding back. “I heard what you did. Do you really think the police are going to believe you over me? You’re joking. My advice is drop the case. If you don’t, remember – I know where you live. I know your sister Bibi. Maybe I’ll take her on a little date.”

I was frozen. I couldn’t move or speak. He let go of me and left, leaving the door wide open. I stood there not knowing what to do. He was right – he could do anything he wanted. I was nobody. Already the community thought I was lying. What court would believe me? He owned this place. He’d walked right up to my house in broad daylight; he knew no-one would stop him. He knew the world was on his side. I had no chance.

I locked the door and went to my room. I got into bed and hoped somehow when I woke up everything would be different. I knew that was magical thinking, but I hoped it anyway. I fell asleep but was soon woken up by my cellphone ringing. I didn’t know the number and at first thought of not answering since I’d been getting all sorts of horrible calls, but I answered anyway.


“Hi, is that Vivian Kgathi?’


“I need to see you … to speak to you.”

“Who is this?”

“My name’s Kagiso … Kagiso Senne. I live in Joburg. I need to talk to you urgently. Can we meet?”

“What’s it about?”

“About Bonolo Mpate. What he did to you … he did to me too.”


I got a bus to Joburg. We agreed to meet at Park Station. Kagiso said she’d wait for me at KFC and that’s where I found her, but she was not alone.

“Hi Vivian, I’m happy you made it. This is Beatrice Thulani.”

I shook their hands. Kagiso was older than me, maybe twenty-five, and wearing a business suit; obviously she came from work to meet me. Beatrice was nearly the exact opposite. She was young, about my age, and very shy. I thought she might still be a student. We took a seat, away from others, so we could talk.

“You’re probably wondering why Beatrice is here. Bonolo raped her too.”

“When did it happen?” I asked Kagiso.

“I was raped eighteen months ago. I tried to open a case against him but the police dropped it because Bonolo and I had been dating for a few weeks. They said it wasn’t rape, but it was,” Kagiso said. “And Bonolo raped Beatrice three months ago.”

“I was working at his house as a maid,” Beatrice said. “He just came home one day and attacked me. I knew about Kagiso because I had heard him laughing about her with his friends. I believed her because I knew what he did to me.”

“I heard about you through a cousin of mine in Nokeng. She found your number for me. I thought we should talk – all of us,” Kagiso said.

“Did you open a case against him, Beatrice?” I asked.

She shook her head. “After what happened to Kagiso I thought it was a waste of time. The police believe him. He’s educated and rich. I’m just a maid.”

“But we’re three now. I bet there are more out there too,” I said.

“I’m sure there are,” Kagiso said.


At the meeting we decided it was best if they came to the police with me since my case was still under investigation. There we met Superintendent Molefhe. She took us into her office and we all explained what had happened to us. She paged through my file.

“It looks like they’ve already interviewed Bonolo Mpate. He is saying it was consensual sex; that you agreed to it,” she said.

“He’s lying.”

“It would be difficult to prove that but if Beatrice opens a case against him for what he did to her, it could help. Also there’s Kagiso’s case which can be looked at again. I think we may have a serial rapist on our hands. I see a good chance of a prosecution now.”

I smiled at Kagiso and Beatrice. It was not going to be easy, but I had a feeling we were going to win. We were going to get him. Eventually Bonolo Mpate would go to jail and other women would be protected from him. I was sad this had happened to all of us, but I was glad we were going to stop him. Together we were going to stop him.

And I decided then and there, I would still have my dreams. I was going to be OK, I was going to be fine. My real destiny still waited for me.


Tell us what you think: Being raped and going through the courts to get justice is hard. Could you do it? How might it be made easier for women?