August 8, 2017 11:49 am

A Woman of Substance

This used to be my playground:

I grew up not knowing my father. Everyone would told me stories about him and I feared this father that I had never met. When I was 8 years old, my mother married my stepfather. My mother was a heavy drinker at the time and my stepfather was a man who was verbally and physically abusive to everyone in our home. At the age of 9, my biological father was released from prison, where he had been serving a sentence for the rape and murder of a prostitute. He returned to our home and a few days later, my mother and stepfather fled the home, leaving us behind. As the older child in the home, I took over all the motherly duties and eventually my father would lock me and my baby brother in the house and we were forced to sell his drugs for him, through the window.


Then the most awful thing happened that changed my life forever- I became the target for my father. He made me his wife, in every sense of the word.  He would force me to sleep in his bed. Eventually, the degradation I suffered at the hands of my father also took its toll on me and I and my brother escape to go in search of our mother. A case of rape was made against our father, but nothing came of it.


I was deeply unhappy living with my mother, as my stepfather continued to be abusive. I became rebellious, got involved with 28 gang members one of whom raped me. I went through a very bad period when the same man tried to rape me a second time. At age 17 I met a man whom I loved and at age 20, got pregnant with his child. The man told me that he no longer wished to be a in a relationship with me and shortly after that, I suffered a miscarriage.


I ended up at an escort agency, where I initially started working as a secretary. Later, I also started doing sex work and conceived two children while doing this work. I continued doing sex work to support myself and my children, and then got involved with drugs. Shortly after my second child’s birth, I met and fell in love with a man who would become my husband. When he learned that I was using drugs, he chased me out of is home. But later I returned and he helped me get into an Outpatient treatment programme, which was a turning point in my life. I also gave birth to our son. I then attended a learning Centre and also obtained my matric certificate. Then I found out that my husband was using drugs and soon we ended up using together, Things spiralled out of control again and one day my daughter told me that my husband had been molesting her. I confronted my husband and he admitted that he had done and said that he was drunk and thought that it was me in bed with him. I gave him a second chance, but learned that he had molested my daughter a second time. I was pregnant with our second child and had a stillbirth. Soon the school was involved and all three children were subsequently removed from our home. They were eventually placed in a Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC).



The world is my stage

A criminal case was made against my husband and I was very distraught at losing my children. I attended False Bay TC in 2015 and this was the last of me falling around to find myself, I was stubborn and very apprehensive about my future but I was willing to admit my shortcomings, I took a leap of faith, I was stripped from everything of meaning to me and I knew I had to make drastic changes and this did not come without challenges. I divorced my husband and fought for my way out of my gloom. I realised that the three lives of my children were more precious than anything to me. I remained in contact with them and would visit the Child and Youth Care Centre on a regular basis to see my children. The Social worker at The CYCC accommodated me and was very impressed at how committed I was to my children.


I continued to do my Substance Treatment Aftercare, returned to live with my family and worked towards establishing a future for myself and her children.


TODAY: I am a second year student at the University of Cape Town studying towards a Social work degree. My children were restored into my care a year-and-a-half after being removed from my care. I am very involved in their school activities, attends every parent meeting and I am a hands-on mother. My children adore me and are progressing excellently at school. I wants my life to be a testimony to my own clients one day, when I qualified as a Social worker. I recently attended my Oath ceremony, where I swore to uphold the principles of the profession.




I would like to thank Naeef, Sally Daniels, Mark, Boeta Hassiem, John and last but not least Fareez. Guys you will not realised the power of your commitment to help others and how it affected me, it went far beneath the surface, I thank you with all of my heart and I will always remember you.



Lots of Love.

Lethicia Dill


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