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Domestic violence victim’s family fear for their lives

Eight-year-old Thendo Rasilavhi carried her dead mother’s portrait during a march in Venda to complain about recent domestic violence attacks in the area and to call for new efforts to deal with the situation.
Written by Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

LIMPOPO – The family of a young woman – allegedly murdered by her boyfriend of only a few months ago – believe police have failed them, and now their lives too are in danger.

Portia Rasilavhi (8) carries her late mother’s portrait during a march in Venda to complain about recent domestic violence attacks in the area and to call for new efforts to deal with the situation.

“We live in fear that the man who killed my daughter might also attack us. The police are not doing enough to arrest him. I fear that he might come after us as he is still on the run. There have been reports of him spotted in our village,” said Joyce Rasilavhi, mother of a young woman recently killed in an act of domestic violence in Vhembe.

Portia Rasilavhi (35), of Nzhelele Village, outside Louis Trichard was brutally killed a month ago – allegedly by her boyfriend of five months. Her body was discovered inside the suspect’s house in Nzhelele.

“How do I tell my grandchild (8) that she will never see her mother again? It has been had trying to console her since we learned about the murder. What hurt the most is that Portia was a single parent, and now her daughter must grow up without both parents,” said Joyce Rasilavhi.

She said that police had done nothing to execute an arrest.

“I have not slept in weeks. How do I sleep knowing that the person who killed my daughter is still out there in the streets and the police are saying and doing nothing?” she asked.

Four women killed

Four women have been killed in the Vhembe region in recent months – all allegedly by their boyfriends. A group of women recently marched to the Vhembe District Offices to hand over a memorandum of their grievances to the Executive Mayor.

Their demands include: that the office initiates a structured moral regeneration programme that will run in schools and community structures and a call for the police be held to account for all pending cases of women and child abuse in the area.

Reading out the memorandum at the march, domestic violence survivor, Rinae Sengani, encouraged abused women to speak up and walk away before they are killed.

“Our march here is to inspire hope and to let young girls know they don’t need to suffer in silence anymore. We are saying speak up and walk away,” said Sengani.

“There are many women who are still afraid to talk because they are heavily dependent on their male monsters for daily survival. This call therefore also reaches beyond abuse. It is asking for women to be empowered through education and sustainable jobs.”

Limpopo police spokesperson, Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said more resources have been placed on the Rasilavhi murder case in order to apprehend the suspect. 

An edited version of this story appeared in The Star.

This article was produced through a journalist fellowship for the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF) and the National Shelter Movement of South Africa’s “Enhancing the State’s Response to GBV: Paying the True Costs”, project which is funded by the European Union. 

About the author

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho is citizen journalist who is based in the Vhembe District of Limpopo province. He joined OurHealth in 2015 and his interests lie in investigative journalism and reporting the untold stories of disadvantaged rural communities. Ndivhuwo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Venda and he is currently a registered student with UNISA.