After Wyebank mother Xolisile Mpungose’s four children - Siphesihle, 10, Khwezi, 6, Kuhlekonke Mpungose, 4, and Ayakha Jiyane, 16 - were hanged by her husband last week, her aunt, Thandekile Mlaba, said she did not know her niece was being abused.
Mlaba said Xolisile was patient in her marriage because that was what the elders told women to be. Experts said before marriage, women were told what to expect in a marriage and how they should behave.
President of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha Ashwin Trikamjee said before marriage an Indian woman would be told that she would become the daughter of her husband’s family and a daughter-in-law was very important in the Indian culture.
“Once married, if there is a problem, she turns to the elders in her husband’s family, and if that doesn’t work out, both families get involved. If all else fails, they go their separate ways,” Trikamjee said.
He said abuse was not tolerated in the Indian culture and religion.
“Abuse is taboo and it is completely forbidden and frowned upon,” he said.
He added that women should not stay in an abusive marriage.
University of KwaZulu-Natal cultural expert Professor Sihawukele Ngubane said in the African culture, when a woman married, she was told she was going there to die with her new family.
“An animal is slaughtered and you are handed over from your ancestors to the other ancestors, so you are cared for there. Once you enter their homestead you don’t go back. There was no divorce back then,” Ngubane said.
He said if things were tough the wife consulted her husband’s family, who allowed the woman to return to her parents’ home while she made up her mind whether to stay or return.
“However, you can’t stay if you see that your life is in danger. You have to report it to the police and get a court order. Don’t sit while someone tries to take your life,” he said.
He said the brutal killing of women was unheard of in the past.
Nomagugu Ngobese, founder of the Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation, said the lobola amount contributed to abuse.
“Abuse against women is mainly created by lobola because a man sees you as his asset,” Ngobese said.