Overcoming whatever life throws at you

Mpho endured gang rape, marital abuse, a suicide attempt, HIV and leukaemia – and came out on top

Everson Luhanga

Mpho Mazamane’s hard luck stories began when she was only 11 years old.

  • Her father and mother divorced when she was 11 years old
  • Her father became an alcoholic
  • He used to beat her up

Mpho, now 46, shared her story with Scrolla.Africa at her office in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni.

Mpho says she was gang-raped by nine men when she was 15 years old. They kidnapped her and her friend in the Magaliesberg where she and 10 other girls went for an outing.

Recalling her traumatic day, Mpho says: “While we were at the holiday place, my friend and I went to the bathroom before the minibus we booked was to take us back home that evening.

“Nine men popped up from nowhere and pointed a firearm at me and a butcher’s knife at my friend. We were told to jump into the bakkie and they drove away with us.”

She said the men drove to Kagiso in the East Rand where they had the keys to a school premises. “They took us into a classroom where the rape happened.

“One by one, they took turns the entire night, leaving us traumatised and powerless.

“My friend was saved from rape because she was having her period. They only forced her to give them blow jobs.

“We were lucky that they left us alive at the school the following morning.”

She said a case was opened at the police station but she never again heard from the police.

Mpho got married at 18.

  • She said things changed when she couldn’t get pregnant. “My husband started abusing me. He abused me physically, emotionally, and sexually”
  • Every weekend, Mohlakeng police officers were expecting me to lay charges of assault against my husband
  • The police got tired of me opening a case against my man and then withdrawing it
  • The tipping point was when her man wrote a suicide letter that he would kill me and kill himself

The family made a plan and took her to stay with her cousin’s sister in Durban.

In Durban she fell in love again and got pregnant.

This man told her that he would kill her if she didn’t have an abortion. 

Mpho’s cousin’s sister sent her back to Mohlakeng in fear of being killed by the boyfriend in Durban. 

Mpho then tested HIV/AIDS positive. Two days before her Durban boyfriend died, he called Mpho apologising to her that he knew he was positive when sleeping with her.

Mpho delivered a healthy son. “But it was hard for me to accept that I am HIV positive. 

“I went to the eighth floor of the hospital to throw myself off. But a hospital security guard rescued me.”

Mpho became a motivational speaker.

She talked in public about her status.

This did not go down well with her family.

Her mother threw her and her baby out of the house because Mpho was “embarrassing the family in public about her status”.

“I went to stay under the bridge at the train station with my son.”

  • Among her many achievements Mpho was named the best HIV/AIDS educator of the year in 1998 – an award presented by Nelson Mandela
  • She also received an award in 2016 as Vosloorus’ Best Female Community Builder

In 2012 Mpho was diagnosed with leukaemia and the doctor told her that she had only seven months to live. 

But eight years later she said she is a happy, healthy, and strong married woman.

Last week, after the interview, she had to undergo more surgery.