South Africa in Transition

About this site
About the reporters
UC Berkeley School of Journalism
Contact Us

South African women mobilize against domestic abuse
By Sherri Day

For a printer-friendly version of this story, click here.

JOHANNESBURG — Baleseng Segona decided that 1996 would be different. This year she would fight back against her abusive husband. So one night, after a particularly bad beating at his hands, she got a knife and waited in her Soweto shack for him to come home from work. She believed that violence was the only language he would ever understand.

"It's either you kill me or I kill you," the 39-year-old Segona recalls thinking at the time. She was tired of her husband's beatings, blatant infidelity and frequent unemployment. When Samuel Makotoko Makotoko came home, the couple fought and Segona managed to pin her husband's body down.

But just before pushing the knife into Makotoko Makotoko's flesh, Segona decided it wasn't worth it, that having to leave her two children and spend years in jail for his murder would be worse than living with him. She let him go and decided to try and salvage what was left of her marriage. But for Segona, the violent war between her and Makotoko Makotoko was far from over.


A poster about girl empowerment. It reads, "Girl chldren are half of our nation's future. Give the girl child equal opportunities for education, and social security."