Ruth Hopkins’s second piece in her four-part series on women in prison. She spoke to women incarcerated in Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town and Johannesburg Correctional Centre about how they ended up in prison and how they survive behind bars.
I met Uche in 2010 when I was 19 years old. He was a handsome tall Nigerian man. We started dating and I fell in love. He made me feel so good and wanted. I had never had that kind of attention, from a man who said he would do anything for me. In no time, I felt like I would do anything for him. We moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town a few months after we met. It was there that I found out he was a drug dealer and that several women worked for him in prostitution. Because I was so in love with him, I complied when he asked me to recruit girls for him. I just convinced them to work for him and then I was done. I didn’t really want any further involvement.
In 2012, I fell pregnant for the first time and I gave birth to our baby girl. I decided to stop working for him. This is when he became emotionally and physically abusive; he would beat me up and lock me in the house for days. One day, he called me into a meeting with his brother. He told me that either I continue working for him or he would make me work as a prostitute as well. I asked him to just send me back home to my family in Pretoria. Uche then moved towards me and slapped me in the face. I lost it and slapped him back. He grabbed a broken bottle and came towards me and that is when I saw a knife on the table, I grabbed it and started stabbing him. I fell on the ground and he started kicking me in the stomach and face.