Sat Sep 23 02:24:19 SAST 2017

Premier knows too well the damage done

By Nomaswazi Nkosi | 2012-11-28 12:29:27.0

"When you rape, you destroy"

These are the words of ANC deputy secretary-general and North West premier Thandi Modise.

Modise knows all too well what damage being raped can inflict on someone's emotional wellbeing.

She was raped by one of her brother's friends when she was 15 years old.

Luckily for her she had unwavering support that allowed her to rise above her circumstances.

"When a man looks respectable, it is easy to believe he could never be a rapist," Modise said.

One cold night during the 1974 school holidays, Modise sneaked out to the local cinema, an apparently popular thing to do at the time.

"After the movie this guy offered to take me home, but instead forced me to go to his room where he raped me," she said.

Modise was too traumatised and afraid to tell her family because her attacker was well-known in the community and was a close friend of her brothers.

"During the December holidays of that year, my family noticed that I was getting round.

"My mother took me to the doctor and it was confirmed that I was pregnant," she said.

Her mother supported her throughout the ordeal, but her brothers were slow to come around.

"Their first reaction was 'why did you sneak out of the house'," she recalls. "My mother reported the rape to the police but my attacker denied it."

The court case was also traumatic for her because "my attacker's father knew the judge, so the case did not go very far".

"It was a very dark period in my life," Modise said.

She did not carry the baby to full term, as she was born three months prematurely. Modise's mother made sure she returned to school as soon as possible.

The trauma of that night has stayed with her ever since.

"Whenever you see an older man coming closer to you, you think he will do the same thing," she said.

Modise said she credits her mother with helping her overcome the tragedy.

"I did not get counselling. I was fortunate because my mother was very strong. I was very lucky that I had a supportive family who believed I could make something of my life" she said.

Despite the unconditional support her mother and family gave her, the MK veteran said she became very scared of boys.

"I learnt that you must never trust a man nor give yourself completely to him," Modise said.

She advised young girls not to date until they were mature enough to make informed decisions.

"As a woman I don't have to be second best to any man," she said.

"I take the view that girls must get an education and know their rights. Girls must also abstain from sexual activity for as long as they can."

She also advised girls to learn from negative experiences in their life.

"Life is never kind to you for very long. Always know who you are," she said.