Domestic violence

Josina Machel, stepdaughter of Mandela, left “blinded” by abusive partner

Josina Machel in 2013. (AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE)

It was her mother’s 70th birthday and Josina Machel, step-daughter to anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, was in the capital of Mozambique. Machel was with her male partner, someone she had “an intimate relationship” with, who but is left unnamed in her interview with the BBC. She told him that she wanted to visit her mother, rather than go to “the place where he expected me to go” in Maputo.

“When I [said] that, he starts getting aggravated,” she said. “And then it just increased and got to a point where he started accusing me of…perhaps wanting to go meet someone else.” In the heat of the argument, Machel said her partner struck her in the face. She was shocked, having “never been beaten before.” The second blow came, “and that is the one that blinded me.” The incident occurred inside a car, from which she escaped.

“Unfortunately, my present to my mom was a blind eye,” she said. “I still ask myself, ‘how could it happen to me’? Domestic violence can happen to anyone. It happens to women of different races, women of different educational backgrounds, different social backgrounds.”

Machel is the daughter of humanitarian and politician Graca Machel, who was married to the late South African president Nelson Mandela. The attack allegedly occurred in October and Machel’s boyfriend, though unnamed in the press, is believed to be a politically connected, well-known businessman. She told South Africa’s City Press that failure to speak out about the violence would be a disservice to the activist legacy her parents built. “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,” she said. Legal proceedings are underway.

Watch Josina Machel’s interview on BBC.

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