Josina Machel, the stepdaughter of Nelson Mandela and daughter of Graca Machel, the famous humanitarian, has just come forward with her story of being viciously assaulted last month by her boyfriend one night as he was escorting her to an event.
After weeks of treatment in the hopes of restoring her vision, Machel was informed by doctors this week that she has lost sight in one eye from being repeatedly punched by her boyfriend. Machel opened up about the news for City Press a week in advance of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. She says her goal is to get women to tell their stories and to take their perpetrators to court.
“I’ve always been an activist against violence, and felt I couldn’t walk the streets without sharing my story,” Machel said in an interview with 702 Radio’s Redi Tlhabi. “I thought to myself: my story counts, let me tell the truth – I was abused.”
The assault took place in Mozambique on Oct. 17, the day of her mother’s birthday. At the time, Machel had been spending time with her mother to celebrate the occasion. Amidst her travels and her event appearances to represent her family, Machel had taken a break to see her boyfriend. In the evening as they were driving in a car, Machel asked her significant other if she could spend time the night at her family’s home to see her mother again and to be with her relatives. That’s when her partner became violent, using verbal abusive language.
“There were just insults, just bad words. He expressed his unhappiness about me wanting to go home,” Machel said. “I have blocked them out of my mind somehow emotionally. They are just not words that I expected to hear from anyone.”
In the middle of yelling at her, Machel’s boyfriend then punched her multiple times in the face. As soon as she could, Machel fled the car and screamed for help in Portuguese and English as she ran through the street. Machel was in an affluent area filled with homes of diplomats and other prominent government officials But even with her cries and the security in the neighborhood, no one came to help her. She eventually woke up in a hospital.
Doctors diagnosed the issue as an “eruption and displacement of the retina,” meaning Machel could not see light. She was even told not to cry out of fear that it would make her condition worse.
“I’m still going through myriad feelings. To be honest, I have not been able to grieve, I have not been able to cry, I have not been angry, I have not been able to feel all those emotions that happened because I’ve been concentrating on my eye and that delayed the pain.”