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#ChildProtectionWeek: The impact of violence on children

Tuesday 4 June 2019
Disclaimer: This is a true story of how witnessing domestic violence as a child can have severe and damaging consequences on that child’s life. It is one story, but it is a story that many children across South Africa share.

My name is Ndingedwa and I am in prison serving a 19 year sentence for stock theft, housebreaking, assault and murder. How exactly I became violent, I am not sure. One thing I do remember is that my father used to be very violent towards my mother. My father drank so much and he was argumentative and aggressive when he was drunk. He fought with my mother and with other people. If other people wanted to stop him fighting with my mother, then he would fight with them too.

My mother was not someone who would fight back with my father. She just had to stand when my father fought with her and by this time if we wanted to get him off my mother then he would hit us so that we would go away, run away so that he could go on with my mother. I was very scared of what my father would do. I could not, did not want to leave the house. I was someone that always wanted to see what he really wanted to do to my mother and those things affected me badly. I was always at home. Later it meant that I didn’t even want to go to school anymore because I always wanted to see … because I knew that if my father was drunk he would fight with my mother.

And my mother always said to us, one day when you come home you will find me dead. Life was tough when I was growing up. We did not have much money and even when I started working, I didn’t see much of what I earned because my father would take it and spend it on alcohol. When he finally left one day, things started to get better, at least I could give my mother some money so that she could buy things for the younger children in our home.

My father was locked up many times for beating my mother. But the system just didn’t work well, he would be locked up for a few days and then released again. Locking him up did not make any difference. He use to threaten us when we were little and when we would tell him that we would phone the police if he beat my mother again, he would say "Let them come and fetch me, I will be back here on Monday."

School never worked out for me. I liked school, but I just could not focus. My mother tried to make me stay in school, but as soon as she would drop me off at school, I would follow her home because I was always thinking about what could be happening at home, I was so worried about what my father was doing to my mother.
This happened until they separated, when I was in my teens.

About: Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
Note to the Editor: If children are affected, we’ve got something to say. Our team of experts are available for comments, interviews and information.
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