South Africa: War’s favoured tactic follows rape survivors to SA
29 April 2016

Rape survivors from war torn countries need healthcare and support in South Africa, not further abuse. (Troy Enekvist/Mail and Guardian Centre for Health Journalism, Bhekisisa)
The only source of support Yvette has is Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organisation that helps refugees and asylum seekers get access to social services. The organisation pays for her children's school fees and the home-based care workers visit her weekly to help manage her medical conditions.

Ina Skosana, from the Mail and Guardian Centre for Health Journalism, Bhekisisa, covered the tragic story of Yvette Mbayo-Ndaya (Mama Yvette). It chronicles her need for a desperate escape from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the difficulties she has faced trying to feed six hungry mouths as she struggles with debilitating health problems. Jesuit Refugee Service, through its two professional homebased caregivers, Marcelline Sangara and Janine Kukasheta, is the only support she receives. Extracts of the article, published on the 29th April 2016, via the Mail and Guradian, follows below:

To read the full story, please click here, and you will be directed to the Bhekisisa page:

Abused women from war-torn countries who have fled to SA for safety often face more maltreatment here.

Yvette Mbayo-Ndaya stands up from the small bench in front of her shop on Jules Street, downtown Johannesburg. A big truck rushes by as she walks past a stall of sweets and a container with amagwinya (vetkoek) into her shop.

Yvette is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2007, she was confronted by government soldiers at her home. They were looking for her husband. She told them she didn't know where he was.

Her husband, hearing her screams, came out of hiding. They were tied up, beaten, stabbed and burnt. She was forced to look when the soldiers raped one of her daughters, who had been hiding in the house.

Rape as a war tactic

Rape is often used as a war tactic to humiliate, instil fear or forcibly remove people. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights dubbed the DRC "the epicentre of sexual violence against women today".

In 2008 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution banning sexual violence as weapon of war. A 2014 report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC states that rape and sexual violence are still a big problem; more than 3 600 cases were reported between January 2010 and December 2013. An estimated one in three of these rapes was committed by members of the DRC army.

Once she was discharged from the hospital, Yvette and her two daughters and youngest son fled to South Africa. The last time she saw her husband and two older sons was during the attack, when she was raped; they were taken away.

"I haven't seen my husband and boys since then. I don't even know if they are alive," she says.

Support for rape survivors

People who survive rape in a conflict setting "often face compounded traumas of rape, witnessing violence being inflicted on loved ones, and witnessing other large-scale indiscriminate atrocities", says Kathleen Dey, head of the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, an organisation that offers counselling and court support services to rape survivors.

She's struggling.

About three years ago, her second daughter was kidnapped in Johannesburg, held hostage and repeatedly raped by a man who worked just a few shops from hers. The man was caught and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Xenophobic violence

In April 2015, Johannesburg was one of the cities hit by xenophobic violence. Yvette and her family sought refuge inside the shop with very little to protect themselves. An angry crowd broke the shop's windows, but somehow the family remained physically unharmed.

Help for refugees and asylum seekers

The only source of support Yvette has is Jesuit Refugee Services, an international Catholic organisation that helps refugees and asylum seekers get access to social services. The organisation pays for her children's school fees and the home-based care workers visit her weekly to help manage her medical conditions.

Yvette has high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney failure. The home-based care-workers fetch her medication from the clinic and, when necessary, pay for it. At times they even give her money for food so that she doesn't take her medicine on an empty stomach. 



Mama Yvette's story has been previously told.



Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
gushwell.brooks@jrs.net
+27 11 618 3404