'He always wins': Jhb woman who fled abusive ex fears he'll never face justice

Isabel Muchanga recalls scenes from 18 September 2020, the day her former husband stormed into their home with an axe, threatening to kill her.

Picture: Kayleen Morgan/Eyewitness News

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please note that the following story contains graphic details.

JOHANNESBURG - A Johannesburg woman has told Eyewitness News how her assault case against her then-husband was mysteriously closed without her knowledge.

Isabel Muchanga fears for her life after her ex-husband attacked her in their home in September 2020.

The scourge of gender-based violence has once again been thrust into the spotlight this week with the murder of Namhla Mtwa, who was shot nine times in a hit allegedly organised by her boyfriend.

While sitting in a backroom that has become her new home, Muchanga is nervous as she speaks. She recalls scenes from 18 September 2020, the day her husband stormed into their home with an axe, threatening to kill her.

"He had an axe. He entered and started hitting things in the room. He said that he'd bash my head in because I refused to leave his house. That's when I saw that I could die. I was just looking for a way out," Muchanga recalled.

Wearing a black dress and seemingly a bit tense, she said that after almost three decades of being in an abusive marriage, the threats were nothing new. But on this day, she was convinced that her ex would make good on his promise.

Muchanga said that when she managed to escape, running barefoot in the streets of Leondale and leaving her four children behind, she came across a police van and pleaded for help.

"The police asked me what would happen if he attacked them too. After they agreed to come to the house with me, they spoke to him on the side. Then they told me not to worry because he promised not to attack me anymore. They didn't arrest him, they just told him to leave," Muchanga said.

But no help was forthcoming as her husband returned to the home with the very same axe and began to terrorise her again.

She said she opened an assault case, which she later learned had been withdrawn.

"The officer gave me a story I didn't understand. She said she took the wrong docket. I still don't understand," Muchanga said.

In a recording that Eyewitness News heard, the police officer who was dealing with Muchanga's case admits to mistaking her docket for another and closing her case unknowingly.

Muchanga said since Eyewitness News' inquiry with police on this matter, provincial police have visited her home, promising to investigate as a matter of urgency.

Meanwhile, Gauteng police say the allegations against their own were very serious and concerning and would be brought to the attention of the inspectorate provincial head.


Muchanga said that she feared that her abusive ex-husband was too powerful for police and the South African justice system.

She said that from 2015, she had gotten multiple protection orders but none of those had been able to keep her ex away from her and their children.

Muchanga said the man had publicly bragged about never being brought to book by authorities.

"He walks around bragging, telling my children that nobody can do anything to him. He says that he pays for everything. That's when I knew I was defeated," Muchanga said.

She said that she had started to believe that her ex-husband would eventually kill her and never be charged for it.

"Why doesn't anything happen to him? Why must I be the one to suffer? Even when I go to the police station, nothing happens. He always wins," she said.

Muchanga also said that police promised to serve her ex-husband with legal papers on Wednesday, something she has been waiting to see for almost two years.