South Africa – This beautiful woman, a 21-year-old mother, was brutally and mercilessly beaten, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, despite having a protection order against him and two domestic violence cases pending.
Michael Padayachee was out on R5000 bail on a June intimidation charge brought by Tina Mbili, the mother of his child and his high-school sweetheart, when he allegedly kicked and punched her in the head and face a week ago in Verulam, north of Durban.
He allegedly attacked her as the police were supposedly looking for him in connection with the attempted murder of his 17-month-old daughter, who was badly bruised when he allegedly threw her over a gate in July.
The brutal attack – which left Mbili with severe head and facial injuries and fighting for her life in an ICU hospital bed – happened as South Africans celebrated Women’s Month and while parliamentarians were calling on the police to comply with the Domestic Violence Act and improve their treatment of victims of domestic violence.
After breaking up with Mbili when she was pregnant, Padayachee is said to have ignored her pleas that he stay away from her and recently broke his bail conditions, which stipulated that he should have no contact with her and his child.
Horrified by the young hospital clerk’s head injuries, Mbili’s sister, Ross Harichand, yesterday accused the police and the justice system of failing her sister and her family.
“She had a protection order but still he managed to get to her, even when the police were supposed to have been looking for him. If they had taken the domestic violence cases seriously my beautiful sister would not be fighting for her life,” said Harichand.
Earlier this month, parliament’s police oversight committee heard that the police’s failure to apply the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act had led to deaths.
Harichand – who had laid a domestic violence charge against Padayachee in 2007 after he broke windows at the family home and threatened to kill them – said she could not understand why the police failed to arrest him in July when her niece was allegedly attacked in front of several neighbours.
“The police had witnesses. They even took statements. ‘They say they couldn’t find him. Are they even looking for him?” she asked.
Before Mbili was put into a medically induced coma on Sunday, she told her family that she was walking with her daughter in a park when she was attacked.
Harichand said a passing motorist had found her sister lying next to the road. She had crawled from where she was attacked to get help.
The child, her bank cards, cellphone and money were taken.
“I received a telephone call saying that I need to rush to the hospital. I was shocked when I got there. I didn’t recognise my sister. I started to cry because I could not imagine what my sister was going through,” Harichand said.
She established that the baby was with Padayachee’s mother and managed to get her back. “The child keeps saying ‘Tina is dead’. Why would she say that unless someone told her that. My sister was left for dead.”
Harichand said Mbili was convinced that the protection order would save her. “I knew from the beginning, when she was in Standard 7, that this relationship was abusive. But she did not leave him.
“The police had come out several times to our home when he smashed windows, ran away with the child and threatened to kill our neighbours, but he always managed to have freedom to come back to hurt Tina.
“The protection order meant nothing to him or to the police, who should have enforced it,” she said.
Harichand was forced to move Mbili to a private hospital and instructed security guards not to allow anyone to visit her sister without her permission.
“He is still out there and he can try to get her. Look at her injuries. He wanted her dead . he always told her that he would kill her.”
Police Ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said yesterday that Mbili’s family should go to court to complain that the protection order had been violated.
“The court issued the protection order, therefore victims should go to court and asked for them to instruct the police to arrest the suspect and the police will then definitely make the arrest.”
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said that another attempted murder and robbery docket had been opened citing Padayachee but an arrest had not been made.
He said Padayachee was wanted in connection with the attempted murder of his daughter and police had been looking for him since July.
Lisa Vetten, a gender activist and policy analyst at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, said few police officers took domestic violence cases seriously because most of them believed the victim would withdraw the charge.
“Other police do not enforce the Domestic Violence Act because they believe [it is being abused] and other police officers are abusers themselves.”
Sonke Gender Justice spokesman Mbuyiselo Botha said women have died holding a protection order in their hands.
“These men know that even if they get arrested they will get bail. We need stiffer sentences. We still have a long way to go.”