Yet again, a woman and her children suffer in the hands of an angry, some would say deranged, man. A pregnant woman was reported by the local newspaper to have been brutally nailed in the head by her lover, first by a claw hammer, and then, in what could have only been pre-meditated, with a 6-inch nail. Presumably, overcome with the savagery of what he had done, the man is said to have hung himself after killing his lover. The couple’s three year old son witnessed the results of his father’s doings; seeing his father hanging from the rafters and his mother lying on the floor, dead.

The reason as to why this man would brutally kill someone he claimed to have loved, the mother of his children, is unknown as both parties are deceased now.

Again, the nation cries out at the act of a single man, at the actions of a deranged, derailed, or depressed nut-job. But this is not a sole man’s doing. If we continue to see these cases in isolation, as one man or one case at a time, then we will naturally come to the conclusion that such a man is a psychopath, a loner, not normal. We will box him and focus on his derailment, on what triggered such a horrific act, and not on the social pressures, the environment which might have created such a man. We need to treat and react to such cases on a societal level, to view these events through a wider lens, a lens which involves all parties: women, men, parents, children and the whole community.

Everyone needs to know and understand what violence means because as much as we may try to wish otherwise, violence involves all of us. As much as we would like to explain such events as the actions of a small number of madmen, violence impacts everyone in society as a whole. The victim-count of this murder is not just a woman who was killed while pregnant (making it a double murder and a double tragedy) but the man as well. He is a victim of a system which does not teach men how to control their anger, which allows men to behave in such a way. He is a victim of toxic masculinity. This is not to excuse him. There is no excuse for such behaviour. But neither is it explaining him by calling him insane and her unlucky. This man is a perfect example of a broken society, broken as a whole. This man’s crime is not an example of a single broken man. We need more advocators, such as Kwakha Indvodza, to speak more in defence of our women and children, and in celebration of our good men. Everyone has to take a stand and contribute to a society that will promote a different, better type of man who understand that a woman, and indeed everyone, should be treated with respect, love and kindness. Men who publically abhor violence, who do not put up with casual references to assault or rape and who are the first man standing, not the last, when it comes to equal rights.

There are many esteemed organisations, like Kwakha Indvodza, that have initiatives to reduce the violence in Swaziland but these assaults and murders seem to be growing more numerous and more dreadful by the year. The question is what is it that we are deficient of? We need to get deeper into these issues than we are at present, to interrogate the causes further.  We need to do more in educating each other on violence, its effects, its signs and causes. On reporting structures and our civic duties to report suspected cases of domestic violence. And we need to challenge this notion of ‘Tibi Tendlu’. Do you have a colleague who seems to have a lot of ‘accidents’ at home? Does your neighbour’s child wince in pain when he walks? Do you find you have trouble controlling your anger and aggressive behaviours towards others?

If we do nothing, what will become of us, as a whole society? The evermore violent cycles of violence we are witnessing will never have an end. The three year old boy who has seen and witnessed the gruesome scene of his deceased parents will need thorough counselling, a toddler at that stage absorbs everything. Statistics suggest that he too will become a violent man, especially now, but he must become the exception rather than the rule. We all should. If we do not, and in the future, he too becomes violent, nobody will remember what horrors he witnesses perpetrated by his father. We will think that he is a depressed psychopath who needs to be locked up forever.

If we are to break such a desperate cycle, we need to resolve and redefine our notions of masculinity and dig up those toxic elements that lead to such violent behaviours, from the roots beneath, not from its fruit.

HP0003     (a scanned copy of the original article by The Times of Swaziland, dated 17 August 2017.