man speaks out about his rape

WOMEN are not the only ones to suffer sexual abuse. I am a 23-year-old man and I have survived to tell the tale of my rape by a man.

I was born and raised by my grandmother in council housing in South Durban. It's a tough area in which hard drugs are bought and sold and illegal liquor brewed.

The rape took place on Saturday afternoon on November 2 seven years ago.

I was just 16 and I was on my way to a school budget meeting. It's just before Guy Fawkes Day, when the children from my community throw firecrackers around and watch them burn. It's exciting.

Three men, aged between 22 and 26, approached me asking for "five bob" (50 cents). My response was: "Sorry, I don't have any money."

I continued walking and took a short cut.

They grabbed me and took me into their territory, a graveyard which about 500m from the path I had taken.

There two of the three guys beat me up, robbed me of my cellphone, wallet and clothing and then left.

I could feel my palms becoming clammy with fear. I could feel the perspiration running down my face. I was petrified.

The third moron had me pinned against him. He rubbing his genitals between my thighs. It was truly frightening.

I could smell stale tobacco and wondered if I could suffocate before he did anything "worse". I fought to break loose and almost did.

Then he tightened his grip. He told me to "blow" him, and somehow I knew what he meant.

He said I wasn't doing it properly, so he told me to bend, and again I knew what he was talking about. He then raped me.

He then ejaculated all over my stomach. It was repulsive. It was as if there were things crawling on me.

I lay on the ground alongside the tombstone marked "Mkhize, beloved husband and father."

I barely remember how I got home. I was taken to the local police station, which came to a standstill when they saw me covered in blood and smelling of semen.

The police officer asked me, "What happened?" He asked me this in front of everyone - and I didn't want them to hear. I thought, "What a jerk!"

I was interviewed by a male officer who tapped his fingers on the table, yawned and sighed.

The second police officer couldn't spell. Then the docket went missing. Evidence was lost. It's sad when the justice system is not your a protector.

Then I had to endure the trial. The defence lawyers were insensitive. "Why didn't you scream?" they asked me.

"The rapist would have become hysterical and would have killed me; my life was at risk," I said.

"All I knew was that I had to be calm and obey; I had to make the moron think he had total control because that's what he wanted."

I think the defence was trying to imply that it was consensual sex if I didn't scream.

I wasn't free to answer questions the way I wanted to. I had to say "yes" or "no". For example when I was asked "Did he rape you?" I had to answer "yes". "Did it feel good?" I said "no".

The outcome of a court hearing was like going for an HIV test. You know you want a certain outcome.

But you also know that destiny may not be with you. You have to prepare yourself to accept the outcome you don't want and find ways to restructure your life.

lThe writer is a freelance journalist and photographer and an activist against sexual violence.