Not sleeping my way to the top

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I could use 10 minutes of “me time”.

It’s no walk in the park being mother to a hyperactive three-year-old boy obsessed with karate chops, fiancée to an equally busy man, full-time post-graduate student and freelance journalist – while planning a wedding. Taking a bubble bath in silence is something that used to happen to me in another life.

I recently had a conversation with a classmate, who asked what I was passionate about. I didn’t have to think long. “Sleep,” I answered promptly and she laughed.  I don’t think she knows the value of a good night’s rest. This is serious business.

I began to realise just how serious it is when I had a health scare at the end of last term. I spent a few days in hospital undergoing tests. The neurologist asked if I was under any extra stress. I didn’t know what to say: seriously, I was stumped. Up to that point, the word “stress” had been banned from my vocabulary. I was the quintessential martyr – the ultimate ‘mother’.

In my mother’s day, things went a little bit differently. My aunts were my second moms; in fact to this day I still get a little confused at family gatherings. Referring to every woman as ‘mom’ can get a little complicated. In my mother’s generation, she could just drop us off at one of her sisters’ houses for the holidays, which could have lasted anything up to a whole month. My son goes for day visits to see his cousins and I’m present at all of them, no one wants to take my child on when they have their own to deal with. These are just the normal everyday things we ‘modern’ moms are expected to do.

Getting on with things without truly assessing our load is something we tend to do. We just soldier on. I used to think this was the stuff that made people tough – until my health stopped me in my tracks and made me realise there was nothing tough about depleting one’s resources to zero.

I realised the importance of taking care of one’s self and having enough rest. Jokes aside, trying to do too much, neglecting to eat a balanced diet, exercise or get enough rest can be life-threatening.

These days I try my best to put some “me time” into my schedule. At times I manage five minutes without someone asking for final decisions about wedding dress designs, vox pop questions or being harassed for juice while I duck a karate chop. I’m on my way – I call it my ‘baby steps’.

ANCYL renews support for Motlanthe

It will be a “generational error” if deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe does not emerge as ANC president in its elective conference in December.

A Game of Tries

Ten tries helped FNB Wits win their game against a very physical Randfontein Rugby Club at the Greenhills Stadium in Randfontein on Saturday.

This was Wits’ ninth victory in the Predator’s League. They won the match 73-28 and earned five points.

Wing and man of the match, Joshua Durbach, opened up the scoring with Wits’ first try early in the first half. Cracks in the Randfontein’s defence saw Wits flank Thato Mavundla and wing Riaan Arends race to the try line for the last two tries of the first half.

A weak counter-attack by Wits’ back-line and a knock-on by Durbach late in the first half resulted in Randfontein’ s centre Errard Ernsting scoring the side’s first try.

Wits made five changes in the second half, which included in-form lock Rinus Bothma and flank Thato Mavundla coming off the field.

The second half kicked off with a flurry of tries. A total of nine tries were scored by both teams in the remaining forty minutes of the match. Wits scrumhalf Dave Turnball and centre Bronson Langa scored two tries each in the second half.

Arends ended the second half of what seemed like a one-sided match with an uncontested tenth try for Wits – his second try of the match. Randfontein managed to score a bonus point before the final whistle was blown.

A win next week against Roodepoort will help Wits secure their second place in log. Wits first team coach Kyle Condon described the match as their test match as Roodepoort were a tough team to beat.

Stand-in captain Paulo Ferreira said: “Roodepoort is going to be a tough match but we are positive we have played to our structures.”

This Saturday, Wits will host Roodepoort , who are placed sixth, at the Wits stadium and they will take on log leaders UJ next week Saturday August, 11.

Photo: Vuvuzela Archives

Rape victims turned away from police stations

When Steven* took his girlfriend Sue to a Johannesburg police station after being raped at a party this month, he expected the police to help them. Instead, the police turned them away. He was told to “take her home” until she had “calmed down”.

The experience of these Johannesburg students is not unusual, according to People Opposing Women Abuse’s (POWA). The organisation’s legal adviser, Priscilla Matsapola, says it is a “common occurrence” for rape victims to struggle to get police to open a case against their rapists.

“When victims try to open a case they aren’t given a J-88, they aren’t advised on taking PEPs [anti-retrovirals].” A J-88 form details the victim’s injuries and is needed for collecting forensic evidence. The form must be filled out by a doctor.

Matsapola said the only way to combat this was for victims to insist on their rights and demand to open a docket, even if that meant lodging a complaint against the officer who refused to do so.

Going to a doctor to fill out a J-88 form is a vital part of the process, according to government guidelines. The form guides the doctor through a detailed examination of all injuries, and a collection of any forensic evidence such as sperm or skin cells from under the victim’s finger nails.

This forensic evidence needs to be collected a quickly as possible after the rape, as this evidence is lost through normal human movement. It is important for trying to prosecute a rapist. If police officers do not advise victims to take the J-88 form, any legal action that follows could suffer greatly.

Doctors are legally obliged to provide free anti-retrovirals, known as PEPs (post-exposure prophylaxis), which greatly reduces the chances if HIV transmission. Police officers often fail to mention PEPs, according to the Treatment Action Campaign website. PEPs lose their effectiveness after 72 hours, leaving the victim vulnerable to contracting HIV AIDS if their rapist was HIV positive.

This is the correct procedure when a rape has occurred: the victim opens a docket and is allowed to ask that a female officer take a statement. The statement does not need to give the details of the rape, but must give as many details of the rapist as possible so that they police can begin their search for him.

After this, the victim must go to a hospital for a medical examination, during which the doctor will fill in the J-88 form, collect evidence like skin cells, hair or sperm of the attacker, and administer PEPs.

It is important to note that police are not allowed to write on the J-88 form, even though they are obliged to provide it to the victim to take with her to hospital.

Fighting with the police is a traumatic experience after a woman has come to them for help. “I encourage the girls to enforce their rights. They must lodge a complaint against the officer and demand to open a docket. If it is taking too long, go to a doctor first. You can always open the docket at a later stage”, says Matsapola.

*False names have been used to protect the victim.

Published in Vuvuzela 17th edition, 27 July 2012