'It feels forever, but it also feels like it was yesterday'
A decade after being gang-raped, Jessica Foord is changing lives
Jessica Foord will be surrounded by family at a cosy bed and breakfast nestled in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg on Friday – a vastly different scenario to where she was exactly 10 years ago.
On March 2 2008, the then 21-year-old Foord and her father Tim were attacked while walking their dogs at a small dam in Hillcrest.
Four men tied up Tim before forcing him to watch the brutal rape of his daughter.
“Ten years just crept up on me. I kept saying to myself that 10 years is coming and suddenly 10 years is here. It feels forever ago but it also feels like it was yesterday. I don’t know how I really feel about it,” Foord said.Her family has always made the anniversary of the attack “just another day”.
“If the family is not together we always send each other a message just to say that we are thinking of each other. We always make sure we can try to be together but we don’t do a big thing or make a big thing about it.
“This year I am away with my parents and family in the Berg and that’s exactly where I want to be.”
Foord prefers to celebrate the milestones that occurred in the past 10 years.
Following her ordeal, she established the Jes Foord Foundation to help restore lives after rape and abuse.
“Obviously the foundation is a huge achievement. It was once a dream and now it is doing everything I hoped it would be doing for others.
“Of course, the biggest achievement has been my family, my husband and my twins, who will turn four on Sunday,” she said.While Foord is the face of courage and an inspiration to thousands of South Africans, she does have “down days”.
“I do have down days. I have flashbacks. I am still in counselling. I really feel counselling is one of the things that has helped me. Some people don’t need to go for so long but I am comfortable with it,” she explained.
The last time Foord saw her rapists was when they stood trial in the Durban High Court nine years ago.
“If they are up for parole I would be contacted but I don’t know if I will want to see them. I can’t really say how I feel about that.”
In 2009, Durban High Court judge Vivienne Niles-Duner sentenced Mbutho Msomi, 26, Lindani Maphumulo, 19, and Ntuthuko Chili, 19, to life in prison for their “selfish” and “animal” behaviour.
The men and accomplice Siyabonga Ntinga were also sentenced to 15 years in prison for robbery with aggravating circumstances.