“I was raped and you were born.” These words written by his mother changed his life and robbed him of his sense of self.
They kept echoing in his head and no matter how much he tried to run away from the truth, he couldn’t escape it. So Scelo Mncube chose to do the only thing that made sense to him: write a book – and hopefully exorcise the demons that had been living in his head since the day he found out the truth about his conception.
The KwaZulu-Natal-born motivational speaker published his work last year, almost 10 years after his shocking discovery. The book, I was Raped . . . And You were Born, is now available nationally. And Scelo hopes it will motivate others not to give up on life.
His life story is one of pain, suffering and ultimately triumph. The 25-year-old was born in Ntuzuma, KZN, and raised by a single mother along with his two sisters, Ntombentle and Nonjabulo. Everything was good until his mom, Busi, died in 2006 after battling an illness – leaving behind heartache.
“When you have parents, even a single parent, you don’t notice certain things because they shield you from hardship. But when my mom died everything came crashing down.”
Four days after his mom passed away a man came knocking on the door demanding rent and gave the siblings three days to come up with the cash. When they couldn’t, they were evicted.
“My two sisters were taken in by their fathers and I was left alone,” says Scelo, who had never known his father. After knocking on doors and begging for money from neighbours, he went to live with an aunt in Umlazi where he stayed for three months until she left for the Eastern Cape, selling her house and leaving Scelo alone again.
“No one wanted me,” he says.
This time he had nowhere to go and ended up on the streets, sleeping at an Engen garage in Umlazi. Throughout it all he tried to keep up with his schoolwork – attending classes at a nearby high school whenever he could. “In 2008 the principal told me I could not continue studying there if I wasn’t paying. I wasn’t even on the books. “I told him I was homeless but he didn’t believe me. He told me to get documentation that proved my mother had died.”
So he travelled back to Ntuzuma to search for something to prove his story – little did he know the trip would change his life.
Scelo went to see one of his family members who had a briefcase full of documents his mom had left behind.
“I opened it and a brown envelope addressed to me fell out.”
When his mom was alive Scelo often asked her who his dad was and all she would say was, “Your father is Jesus.”
But that fateful day in 2008 he found out the truth.
“Scelo, I don’t know when you are going to find this letter,” he read.
“But I want to say this to you: I was raped and you were born. “I don’t know your father. I wanted to abort you in the sixth month but I gave birth to you in the eighth month.
“I wrote this letter to apologise that life is not what it is supposed to be. I was a hard worker but I failed.”
Distraught, Scelo asked his mother’s family if it was true but nobody wanted to talk to him about it. He was called names, told to leave and the letter was ripped into pieces, he says.
Devastated and depressed, he went back to the streets.
“I could not put my life together. I dropped out of school, I was listless and nothing seemed to work. “I could not stop thinking about the words in that letter.I was dying daily inside,” Scelo says.
He also couldn’t stop thinking about the pain his mother had suffered.
“She always tried to be strong in front of me.” And all the while she was living with her terrible secret.
Things finally started turning around for Scelo, thanks to the help of kind strangers. It started when taxi driver Tso Ntuli found Scelo living at the garage and offered to buy him a school uniform and give him shelter in his taxi every night – which was always parked at the garage.
A local woman, Thandazile Gumede, also offered help and treated him like a son after finding out he was homeless. She took him in towards the end of his school career. Scelo finished matric in 2011 at the age of 19.
Although he wanted to study further, he didn’t have the money.
“I decided to do what I was good at, and when I had enough money I would be able to do what I love and study,” he says.
What he was good at was speaking – something he discovered when he entered a motivational speaking competition on a radio station while in high school.
“Bab’ Tso told me about it and said I should call in and share my story. Not a lot of people could say they were studying for matric while living in a taxi.” Scelo made it to the top three in the competition.
“[Late gospel musician] Sfiso Ncwane heard my story on the radio show and looked me up. “He helped me set up speaking engagements – some paid nothing, others paid up to R1 500.”
By 2013 he was speaking in churches and events across KwaZulu-Natal and in a couple of years he’d made enough money to buy back his mother’s house in Ntuzuma, where he now lives with his sisters.
Last year, when the country was enraged by the rise in violence against women and when #MenAreTrash was trending on social media, he decided to write his book.
“I understood the anger women felt. I also had to deal with my own anger and felt maybe I could help someone in the process. “
“I was also hoping someone who knew my mother might know more of the story about what happened to her, and come forward,” he says.
Scelo , whose work is published by Grashyo Publishers – is still single because “I have to fix my life”. “I’m still broken but I’m working on myself,” he adds.
Scelo is already working on a second book, which focuses on accepting the man who violated his mom.
“I’ve come to realise my father has always been there. “
“When my mom said my father was Jesus she was right. That’s the book I’m writing next.”