“After my husband died and I lost everything we had worked hard for, I started working as a domestic worker.

“Three years after my husband died, I started dating the man who became the father of my daughter. Things were wonderful at first, but two years into the relationship he began drinking and I became his punching bag.

“Every time he got drunk he would say, ‘sometimes I wonder what I am doing with you because you are a widow and widows always bring bad luck.’ He always blamed me for his misfortune and for the fact that he abused alcohol.

“It killed me to see my daughter crying because he was beating me. My family took me to the police station to report the abuse, but I couldn’t do it. I was so afraid of him. That was when my family decided it was in my daughter’s best interest to move in with my mother.

“After my daughter was taken from me, I decided enough was enough. I finally reported him to the police. He was arrested and he is still in jail.

“As for me I went back home to my family because it’s where I belong. I will forever grateful to my family and my community.”

OurHealth spoke to some people who know Shabalala:

Her brother, Mzwandile Shabalala, a policeman, said: “At first we thought she was confused because she’d lost her husband. Sometimes if a person loses someone they love it can destroy them. We pleaded with her to leave him but she never listened. I don’t know how many times she was put in the hospital by him.”

Zandile Madonsela, a friend, said: “We tried to help. Even our pastor tried talking to both of them, but we never got anywhere.”

Sister Nhlanhla Nkosi* from the local clinic said: “We advised her so many times to report the case to the police and even offered to call the police for her, but she never agreed. Early this year, she came with heavy bleeding because she had been stabbed by her boyfriend. She had to be transferred to the hospital because her case was so serious. The number of domestic abuse grows every year. Abusive men need to be exposed.”

*Name has been changed