Sabie Mashigo is running the Comrades barefoot to raise awareness about sexual abuse. Picture: Zanele Zulu / ANA
Durban - THE rape of two little girls, who were also stabbed with a knife by their violator, will serve as inspiration for their older relative to run the last 5km of today’s Comrades Marathon barefoot to raise awareness about sexual abuse.

Sabie Mashigo, 40, started the #RUN4HER campaign after the family members, aged 9 and 13, were raped and repeatedly stabbed, allegedly by a neighbour on March 20.

Mashigo said the man was arrested at the scene in Sebokeng.

She said the brutality of the incident had left her 13-year-old relative scarred on her head and hands while the 9-year-old did not survive the ordeal.

“I’m running to honour the memory of my late relative and to show my support to the one who survived. I don’t even know how many scars that poor child has but now she has to live with them,” she said.

“By the time I reach the finish line my feet will probably be bleeding. I will be able to wash off the blood and my wounds will heal but for survivors of rape, the pain and trauma never go away. ”

She said the pain from every thorn, piece of glass and blister would be symbolic of the pain suffered by any person who has suffered from sexual violence or rape.

Mashigo’s attempt to run the marathon last year was unsuccessful because she completed only 50km of the total 87km, but that this year she was driven by a cause greater than herself.

“I have no choice but to finish this year for those two children and for all the other people out there suffering,” she said.

“I can’t let down my relative who died. I believe that she is now my guardian angel and that she has guided me up to this point.”

Mashigo said the ordeal had ripped open old wounds for her, triggering traumatic memories of when she herself was raped 20 years ago.

“I came to the realisation that while I was lucky enough to survive, my relative, like so many others, was not as fortunate.

“I am running for all those who tried their best to run away but just couldn’t escape, those victims who ran for their lives from the monsters that violated them,” said Mashigo.

She partnered with The Barefoot Campaign, a support organistion for those suffering from sexual violence, to raise awareness and funds which will go to the refurbishment of rape centres.

“Empowering and informing people of the power that their voice has is important,” she said.

“Knowing that you have a support structure which will hear you encourages more and more victims to speak about their violations.

“It gives them hope.”

Mashigo said this year it was 5km but next year she could be running 10km barefoot.

Sunday Tribune