• Sindiswa lying in her hospital bed, perspiration beading on her forehead and soaking the pillow.
  • Too weak to move, Sindiswa lay curled up in a tiny bundle and stared intently at the camera.
  • Sindiswa rests pensively after telling some of her story.
  • Nomzi comforts Sindiswa in her distress, both shed tears.
  • Sindiswa, at the Sunflower Hospice in Bloemfontein before reunion with her friend Elizabeth.
  • Sindiswa said she wanted to be known, and her story told. She passed away a week later, alone in the hospital. She had been 3 months pregnant.


      I met Sindiswa late one night in a hospice in Bloemfontein, in July 2009. She was 17 and her unconscious body was found in the street by Nomzi, an outreach worker from a local church that works with the ladies on the street. Sindiswa was one of the girls Nomzi had befriended. Her story, like so many I’ve heard since, is heart breaking.

      A ‘friend’ came to Sindiswa’s village in the Eastern Cape and told her she could get work if she came back with her to Bloemfontein. With no parents and never having finished school, she took the opportunity to try and make a life for herself.

      Sindiswa’s childhood friend “Elizabeth” joined her on the adventure. The two girls were told by Sindiswa’s ‘friend’ that they could stay with her boyfriend, though the ‘friend’ disappeared after a few days, leaving both Sindiswa and Elizabeth behind. The girls were put to work on the streets by ‘Jude’; selling their bodies for his profit. From that point on, through threats of violence and the abuse of the girls’ vulnerability, Jude controlled their lives and received all their earnings from their ‘work’.

      Sindiswa told us about Elizabeth, but that she hadn’t seen her for a long time and didn’t know where she was. Sindiswa also said to tell people about her, she wanted her story told.

      Sindiswa passed away a week later, along with her unborn baby. She was 3 months pregnant.

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