Nonhlanhla Mfuzi, 37, presses her throat. Beneath the pretty scarf she wears a voice apparatus that enables her to speak. "I was injured in 1997. My boyfriend cut my throat. He left me in the dark, to die. I went to hospital for a month. I reported the attempted murder to the KwaMashu police station and the docket disappeared; I was told to re-open the case. I did this and the docket disappeared again. My story was in the newspaper but it did not make a difference. I worked as a domestic worker but I was too weak to work. I came to the KwaMashu Advice Office in 2003 and they helped me to get a Disability Grant for two years. It was then cut off. I have been coming to the Advice Office all the time and the officers write letters for me I am unable to work because I am struggling to breathe. Yes, I am in a lot of pain."
Gugu Shozi - Administrator, KwaMashu Community Resource Centre
"The Centre does have a relationship with the police. In a crisis some go to the police first because they are badly injured and then come back to us. In some cases the police do not give us feedback as in the case of Nonhlanahla's attacker. Nonhlanhla came to us in 2003 and we helped her get a Disability Grant for two years. It was stopped as it is government policy you can't go on getting the grant. Even if you are disabled you have to keep on knocking. We wrote letters to the Department Social Development [on and off] and eventually this year, (2012), she got a permanent grant."
Anna L's story
"My husband was shot in 1993 and my three kids were very small. My youngest was one year old. I was a participant of the workshop for women and girls [run by the Greater Molweni Advice Office]. I don't know how to explain what happened in the workshop. I found that I was able to talk about my husband's shooting for the first time, without crying. Something happened. It was a healing. I don't know if it was a spirit from God that came into that workshop but from that day I could tell the story of my husband, the story of how we heard about his death. It was such a burden for me, that story, for more than 20 years. After that, I was free. There were other women in the group who talked and experienced the same kind of healing. I still don't know what it was that happened. They also said it was the most important day of their life. It has made such a difference to my life. I was so heavy and now I am light."
Ntombi Ncgwensa, Councilor, Greater Molweni
"We were trained on 'present trauma healing' by people from Diakona Council of Churches. We know how to create a safe space for people to face their traumas. The Women's Conversation was held at the Kononia Conference Centre in Bothaville, Greater Molweni. They have a garden where there is no noise and you can walk and recollect what has happened in your life – we call it 'the walk of life'. We told them, 'Think about when you were growing up and had no trauma and had no pain and then walk through your life until now and listen to the feelings and ask yourself, how did I survive?' The glory point is when they finish. They can say to you I have been through this and survived."