Cape Town - Thembela Mjuleni had thoughts of committing suicide as she lay in hospital after her eyes were gouged out by three men who robbed her of her cellphone and earrings.
The 23-year-old mother of an 8-year-old girl was discharged from hospital this week.
She was about to start a new job, but the vicious robbery, which took place metres from her Mandela Park, Khayelitsha, home about two weeks ago – has put paid to that.
“When I was informed that I would be blind, I wanted to kill myself,” she said on Thursday.
“But I thought about it, and I thought of my child who was not going to have a mother. I just have to be strong for her and my family.”
It was difficult for Mjuleni to speak about the night of the robbery and she wasn’t comfortable being photographed.
She wrung her hands as she spoke about the attack that robbed her of her sight and her plans and changed her life.
But she relaxed as her brother, Thabo Mjuleni, joked with her.
“I have to be positive. I am just glad that I did not die,” she said. “Now it’s time for me to start a long road to recovery. I was shocked about the incident. It happened so fast.”
Mjuleni was on her way from her friend’s home when she was accosted, choked, robbed and left for dead.
“I have been receiving a lot of support from my family, community and my friends and I am grateful for their generosity. It is hard for me to come to terms with what happened. It changed my life completely. I do not want to think about it, I just want to be strong so that I overcome it.
“I feel much better now because I am home and spending time with my family. I thought it was going to be a challenge for me to settle in. I was worried that I was going to be a burden for my mother.
“The sad part about this is that I won’t be able to do things I love to do, like cleaning the house, cooking and doing laundry any more. I have to rely on people to assist me most of the time.”
Mjuleni’s mother, Vuyiswa, said: “We do everything for her, but she is able to bath herself and prepare herself. She is strong, and I am encouraged by her strength. A lot of people have been coming and motivating us to be strong.”
Thabo said although Mjuleni would live with the scars of the incident, “we are going to be with her every step of the way until she recovers – and it doesn’t matter how long that takes”.
Mxolisi Rwanqa, Siyabulela Mrhaqu and Pule Sikhobe are facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated robbery. They are being held at Pollsmoor and are to appear in court again on August 21.