The Women They Leave

Published 7 years ago

On February 5 2013, Annette Kilele and Marie Muyembi both received the same tragic news. Both women are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo living in Johannesburg.

Kilele’s husband, Kilele Mukuti, and Muyembi’s brother, David Bakajika, were arrested, along with 18 others, by South African police on charges related to a coup attempt targeting their head of state, Joseph Kabila.


After a month-long and expensive battle, their men were denied bail and were detained for almost two years. However, a surprise decision by the judge changed all that. In late November 2014, Bakajika was released. Mukuti was not.

Both women now face a different set of challenges; Kilele must continue to support her five daughters despite her husband’s incarceration, while Muyembi must help her brother, and his two children that she cares for, come to terms with his traumatic return.