Rape survivor Leilani steps up to challenge
“Not one morning did I wake up and think I can’t do this anymore. I knew what I was doing was important and that I was making a meaningful difference,” she said.
Every day, the 45-year-old uttered these words to keep motivated in reaching her goal to mark her horrific rape ordeal of 27 years ago with something more meaningful.
She did this by walking 27km a day for 27 days from Pretoria through 27 suburbs, ending up in Ruimsig. The idea was to take a stand against sexual assault and gender-based violence.
Kuter started her journey on September 16 wearing yellow, the colour her attacker wore on that fateful day almost three decades ago.
She said the walk covered four provinces and took over 3645 hours to complete, supported by more than 300 individuals, including some rape survivors of all ages.
And while many people were inspired by her story, Kuter said a particularly special moment for her was while in Nelspruit on Day 22 when the prefects of Hoërskool Bergvlam, Lowveld High School and the entire town came out to support her. “I cried tears of joy. It was so emotional. The support was incredible,” she said.
“Throughout this journey, I never could have expected the amount of support I received. I was so incredibly fortunate to be joined by so many compassionate individuals who supported me every step of the way, shared their stories and this life-changing experience with me. I am happy that I could give others hope and create a safe space for people to reach out and confront this ‘taboo’ topic.”
Kuter said even though the challenge was one of the hardest things she has had to do, as it took a huge toll on her body, she regretted nothing.
“My ankles were very sore, but I felt fantastic finally reaching the finish line. I learnt so much about myself on this journey; that I am tougher than I think and that I need to nurture my fighting spirit.”
She took her final step at the Ruimsig Parkun in Roodepoort on October 12, tallying up a total distance of 729km.
She added that her campaign launched on the crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy on August 14 had to date managed to raise R237110 with contributions from 109 donors.
The money raised will be used to purchase emergency comfort packs for young girls when they report sexual assault. Any additional funds, she said, would also be used to help women in need of rehabilitation and counselling.
Kuter was brutally raped and left for dead when she was only 18 and living at a youth centre on Madiba Street (then Vermeulen Street) in the city centre.