“Not guilty my Lord, Not guilty” ……
She is tired of saying the same statement over and over again yet not getting the justice she deserves. She walks on the streets with the fear that the wrongdoers are walking around freely. She is afraid that the past will repeat itself.
Under the circumstances that she had lost her husband, the authorities still did not give her the justice she deserved. Langihle was happily married and she brought happy days in her family’s life just like her name meant. One night a tragic storm rushed in and left the country devastated. On that very same night, Langihle was left without a husband and the children without a father. As per Langihle’s culture, she had to get married to her late husband’s brother Thando, so that her children will continue to have a father figure and be taken care of. The first few months Thando treated Langihle with love and care, so much that she got comfortable and it almost made her forget that she had recently lost her husband.
One night, Thando took Langihle out for dinner. Langihle was over the moon yet Thando’s actions were not sincere. All this while, Langihle had no idea that Thando was a chauvinist and a woman beater. He was known in the entire society for his ruthless character towards women. However, Langihle was the last person to know. To her dismay, she only found out the night she was a victim. As the night broke into dawn, Langihle was still in shock about how Thando had assaulted her. Indeed, Thando was a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.
When she was freshening up, she couldn’t stop sobbing. She made her way to the police station but second thoughts were running through her mind. “Is it right to report Thando? After all he is now my husband,” she thought. As she was sitting on the bench, waiting for her turn, her mind kept on bringing back last night’s memories of how Thando had brutally molested her. She kept on wondering how her beautiful forest was burnt to ashes overnight. Tears flooded her eyes.
“Next!” shouted the Constable. Langihle could not walk properly towards the table where the Constable was. As she got to the table, the Constable asked her to state her case. She could not utter even a single word. All she did was cry. However, the thought of her children staying with such a cold man gave her the strength to speak out.
Langihle’s bubble had burst. What seemed to be a fairy tale had become a nightmare. She made her way back home with the fear of getting more scars and finding her children harmed. Now the struggle had begun, she had to find a lawyer to deal with her case. Despite Thando’s known ruthless character, no lawyer was willing to go against him. To most lawyers going against Thando was career threatening since he was a very influential person. Days passed and Langihle still had not found a lawyer. On the day of the court hearing, Langihle was a wreck. For a moment, she saw her life flash before her eyes. This then reminded her that she had a war to fight. If not for her, then for her children. Whilst she was thinking of being her own ‘lawyer’, a man by the name Nkosi appeared and informed her that he was a lawyer provided by the state. Nkosi was ready to provide legal representation for Langihle. “May you all take your seats and may the two parties present their cases,” the Judge said. Nkosi asked Langihle to step forward for questioning “Do you swear to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth?”
As the hearing went on, Thando’s lawyer turned the tables for Langihle which made the bench to deliver the judgement in Thando’s favour. Despite stars not being in her favour, Langihle vowed to change lives of other women by not giving up on the case. She got help from the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association to start her life afresh, with no men dominating her. From then Langihle felt like she was truly an army.