"Lion Mama" Attacks Three Men Who Were Raping Her Daughter, Killing One
Lion Mama saved her daughter's life that day, yet still faced the possibility of prison time after she was charged with murder.
In March 2019, BBC News South Africa reported the case of “Lion Mama,” a woman from Lady Frere, Eastern Cape, South Africa, who earned the moniker after she fought off three men who were raping her daughter, killing one of them.
Lion Mama Attacks Rapists
The "Lion Mama" is a woman by the name of Nokubonga Qampi. Police arrested Qampi after the attack. They charged her with murder but luckily, public outcry helped Qampi and the charges were dropped.
A friend of Qampi's daughter called her in the middle of the night frantically telling her that Siphokazi was being raped by three men who the family knew well. The attack was happening just 500 meters from the village Qampi lived.
Siphokazi had visited her friends in a group of small houses located in the same village as her own. Her friends left her alone at 1:30 a.m. when the three men entered the house she was in after drinking and attacked her.
Qampi called the police but when they did not answer the phone, she took off to rescue her daughter. She told BBC News South Africa that she was scared but feared the men would kill her daughter.
She grabbed a knife from the kitchen and headed to her daughter’s side, an unsafe, dark area of the village. Qampi used a torch to make her way through the dark.
Qampi Saves Her Daughter From Attackers
As she neared the village where her daughter was, she heard the screams from inside the bedroom. As she entered, she witnessed three men on top of her daughter. The men charged at Qampi and she immediately reacted.
Qampi refused to go into detail about what happened after that. She did grab her daughter and run to a nearby friend’s home after the encounter. They got a hold of the police who arrested Qampi and transported Siphokazi to a hospital where she was treated for her injuries.
Two days later, Qampi visited her daughter in the hospital after she was released on bond.
Rape in South Africa
More than 100 rapes occur in South Africa each day. Eastern Cape -the poorest region of South Africa- has the highest number of rapes per capita population than any other. In Lady Frere -a village of fewer than 5,000 people- 74 rapes were reported in 2017/2018.
Most rapes are not reported and when the crime is reported, attackers rarely face prosecution. Qampi feared she would spend time behind bars for the attack that saved her daughter’s life.
Lion Mama “Didn’t Understand” Her New Nickname
The name Lion Mama was given to Qampi after the media got hold of the story, a rare occurrence in South Africa. She told BBC News South Africa that she did not like the name at first because she did not understand. Once she learned it meant that she was a hero, that people looked at her in the same way a lion protects its cubs, she grew more responsive to the title.
Qampi's Case “Withdrawn” Attackers Sentenced
The media attention stirred up around the case also helped her fight-and win- her case. When Qampi attended her first court appearance before the magistrate, she was scared, she said, but then he announced that the charges against her were “withdrawn.” Qampi could walk out of the court room free, without any worry of spending her life in prison.
The two surviving attackers, 30-year-old Zolisa Siyeka and 25-year-old Mncedisi Vuba were both charged with rape and convicted, each sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Siphazi Wants to "Encourage" Other Rape Survivors
Sipohazi came forward as a victim in the case because she wanted to give hope and encouragement to other rape survivors. She told BBC News South Africa, “I would tell a person that even after such an attack there is even life beyond it, you can still go back to society. You can still love your life.”