NEWS

Graça Machel's Daughter Keeps Shining After Brutal Attack By Her Boyfriend

But the gender activist is still awaiting justice, a year after the devastating incident.

20/12/2016 13:27 SAST | Updated 20/12/2016 16:34 SAST

Video above: Two artists created an art installation using 3,600 pairs of underwear to represent the number of people raped in SA every day.

Graça Machel's daughter Josina Machel has posted a striking portrait of herself on her Twitter and Instagram account, a year after a brutal attack by her then boyfriend left her blind in one eye.

It is a poignant and brave move from Machel, showing how far she has come in the year since the devastating incident, despite justice still not being served.

The photographs, shot against a stark white background, are accompanied by messages in both Portuguese and English decrying gender based violence. "#gbv kills, maims, hurts," read part of the message, posted on Saturday.

Posted just a week after the end of South Africa's annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign dates, the post garnered support from her followers. But Machel and her family are still awaiting justice.

Her alleged attacker is a well-known and politically connected businessman from Maputo, Mozambique, with interests in South Africa. He was due to appear in court connection with the attack and cannot be named until he does. However Josina told Mozambican publication, Club of Mozambique, in September this year that almost a year later, the man was yet to be tried in a Mozambican court, calling this "justice delayed".

On December 16 Machel posted a shot of herself wearing sunglasses to Instagram, including the words: "Today is a day I have been praying for: First day in Court against my attacker."

But later that day she said: "The accused didn't appear in Court, allegedly for being out of the country on business. Case postponed to Jan 16th."

The posts illustrates Machel's growing activism, inspired by her famous parents.

"I... felt that not standing up in this fight will be an indictment on the legacy of my parents," she told City Press last year. "Papa Madiba has always defended women's rights and my mum is the epitome of the significance of fights against injustice against women. So at this point, I have no right to be quiet and not to stand up."

In my wildest dreams I never imagined it would happen to me.Josina Machel

Machel opened up to City Press in November 2015 about the attack, shortly after finding out she had permanently lost her sight in her right eye.

She said as a gender activist, she had always worked towards ending violence against women "but in my wildest dreams I never imagined it would happen to me".

The experience spurred her to dedicate her life to ensuring that "no violence is perpetuated against women and no violence is perpetuated against men", she told City Press last year. She has started an advocacy organisation around the issue, Kuhluka Movement.

"The organisation focuses on building and improving shelters for survivors of domestic violence," Josina told Club of Mozambique. She said despite her ordeal, she thought that what happened to her was probably meant to help her "understand exactly what other women are going through and do something about it".

Her mother, Graça Machel, also opened up to the Mozambican publication, about the trauma of the event.

I do not want to say he is a monster, but he is.Graça Machel

"I have seen Madiba lying there suffering, going slowly ... and [after he died] I thought it was time for me to lick my wounds and be in peace, but this happened. I asked myself, 'Why does it have to be us?' There has to be a reason."

Machel said she had not met the man who allegedly assaulted her daughter.

"Zina was very cautious and kept postponing every opportunity to introduce him to me ... I caught a glimpse of him once," Machel said, adding that the attitude displayed by the alleged assailant was hurtful.

"He denies everything. He claims that Zina got injured after she fell, but even a doctor in Barcelona looked at her eye and said this was from a massive blow.

"I do not want to say he is a monster, but he is," she said.

While the insults were flying, she felt a punch in the face.

The original account of the incident makes for brutal reading. The assault centred around her mother's 70th birthday celebrations on October 17, 2015.

Josina wanted to visit her mother after spending time with her boyfriend, which led to an attack from him.

He refused to take her to her family home and began throwing accusations at her and insulting her, City Press reported.

"There were just insults, just bad words. He expressed his unhappiness about me wanting to go home. I have blocked them out of my mind somehow emotionally. They are just not words that I expected to hear from anyone. They were demeaning of any woman and of me," she said.

While the insults were flying, she felt a punch in the face.

It is about many other women out there who are going through the same experienceGraça Machel

"I was so shocked that I did what everybody does when something happens to you. You don't turn towards your aggressor. You protect yourself and you try to protect your face, but to my surprise, I actually turned towards him and I asked 'WHAT?!'

"That is how I got the second jab that blinded me, which ruptured the eye almost immediately. I felt the third one coming and that's when I ran out of the car, ran away from him."

Her mother has said the family is using the incident to help all women.

"We are not doing all this in pursuit of special attention because Josina is Samora Machel's daughter and Mandela's stepdaughter; it is about many other women out there who are going through the same experience," said Machel.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="pt" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/violenciacontramulher?src=hash">#violenciacontramulher</a> mata, cria defeitos, magoa <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/gbv?src=hash">#gbv</a> kills, maims, hurts <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/stopvaw?src=hash">#stopvaw</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/stopgbv?src=hash">#stopgbv</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/endvaw?src=hash">#endvaw</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/stopviolenciacontraMulher?src=hash">#stopviolenciacontraMulher</a> <a href="https://t.co/ccBKhexkvv">pic.twitter.com/ccBKhexkvv</a></p>&mdash; JosinaZMachel (@JosinaZM) <a href="https://twitter.com/JosinaZM/status/810079208114388992">December 17, 2016</a></blockquote>

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