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All I had was just us, and perhaps, I at times took it for granted. Before my sister turned into a public scorn and was called a lunatic and a murder, she was just an ordinary young ambitious woman. The girl I know differs from the one who you think you know. I know her as the sister who always made it a point to protect me. She loved and respected her family. The one you now know as Karabo Hazeek—the so-called “blood thirsty murderer”—who you all say should be sentenced, never to strike again, and read all the news headlines that month.
They had lowered her life to nothing more than just a puppet show, forgetting their place, speaking out of turn, and forgetting what she had to sacrifice that night all in the name of love. Who am I? I am one of the reasons many newspapers, magazines, and tabloids made the most profits in sales. I am what you turned into a laughing stock, forgetting that we were the victims who acted in self-defence, despite the gruesome displays. I am now the one who will set the record straight as to how her mental state was at the time she did what she did.
I am Jorge Hazeek, Karabo’s little brother, and I have decided to tell her story. After what seemed to be months of endless, agonising back and forth, I went to visit her where she currently serves her full sentence—with no possible chance of parole or a mere house arrest.
For as long as I can remember, Karabo has always had a protective shield towards our family name, and especially with me. Growing up, no one could ever mess with me; she was like the best big sister I could ever wish for and the brother I never had.
She was born in Hillbrow by a woman who was notoriously known to be a drug lord, and because she did not want to expose her daughter to the kind of lifestyle she was living, she decided, long before her birth, to give her up for adoption. At least, that is the reason she wrote on a note when she left her outside the Saint Mariah Orphanage Home in Soweto. So, Karabo stayed in the orphanage for 13 years of her life.
Although it was a decent home with care for every child, it was also tough because no one ever chose her when they came there; her friends were all adopted—all but one who's name was Nicole.
She and Karabo were the rejects of the system—somehow always overlooked—and as the years went by, they too grew older and that also meant the lesser the chances they had of being adopted. By their 16th birthday, there was a couple on the other side of town who was told by different specialists that the woman was barren—due to one faulty back door abortion she had when she was just a teenager. And so, after much perseverance, the couple finally gave into the idea of adoption.
The couple’s name was Mr. and Mrs. Hazeek. The couple decided to adopt a newborn baby of a nationality other than theirs. A few weeks after their decision, they came across the children’s home located in Soweto. It was January 5, 2019 around 7:00 AM when they went to the orphanage. Karabo and Nicole were on their way to the home from their Saturday morning stroll when a gang fight suddenly started not so far from where they were. There was open fire. Karabo had the advantage of suspecting that something was wrong beforehand and started looking around; she tried to warn Nicole, who was standing a distance away from her talking to some boy who was just trying his luck.
One of the bullets hit Nicole from the back, penetrating through to her heart, and exited just to graze the young man on his right arm, barely even injuring him. Karabo ran screaming for help towards the orphanage. That was when they bumped into each other, in the middle of a chaotic rush. My father always called it love at first sight, because in that tragic moment, they both knew—without even saying a word to each other—that she was the one they wanted to take home, instead of a newborn like they thought.
A year later, I was “accidentally” conceived. The doctor’s explanation was that my mom stopped stressing over having a child and time healed her wounds, allowing the pregnancy to happen, but she had always said that it was all rubbish and that the truth was I was a miracle child. “It was meant to be that we find Karabo first so we can find you,” she would always say.
So, what really happened the night of the alleged, cruel murder of the young men who decided to invade our lives? It was a quiet and peaceful night, like any other date night in my family. Karabo had classes all day and said she was tired, so she retired to bed earlier than usual. Mom and dad had a date night in the cinema room and ordered that they not be disturbed unless the house was on fire—and if one of us was on fire, then the other should just put them out and not disturb them (dad meant that as a joke, of course).
And me, well, I decided that I was going to do something that I have been wanting to do that I never gathered the courage to do: Call this other girl at my school that I had a crush on since kindergarten. I have always said that I would call and profess my love for her, but each time when she would pick up the call, I would give a silly excuse as to why I called and never do as I intended to do. Either way, it was enough just to hear her voice before I went to bed. But that night... oh that night I was determined. My sister had just told me earlier to think of it as if a doctor had just told me that I was dying the next day and it was the last thing I had to do and had nothing to lose. Funny how that would almost be reality. Luckily, I had the advantage of rehearsing my words without anyone hearing me. Since I joined a school rock band, bought a drum set, and put it in my room to practice, it eventually drove my parents to the edge and they ended up making my room soundproof. So that did not only mean that no one heard me, but also meant I couldn’t hear anything outside either—including the first 30 minutes of the guys entering the house that night. My sister and parents' versions of events come into play.
There were three guys—well, they were more like three drug addict high school boys, just about my height, looking for their next quick fix.
My sister woke up around midnight and went to the kitchen to get some warm milk as her occasional routine before she goes into her late night studying. They made their grand entrance by breaking the living room’s sliding door, split up to search the other rooms, and somehow managed to miss my room. Two of the guys found my parents and held them at gun point. At that moment, Karabo said she had a feeling that something was wrong again—like the day her friend died—and so, she hid as best as she could in the kitchen.
The third guy found her. The pot on the stove, which was ON, gave her away. She felt weak and helpless with every passing moment, with every screaming command they made. He shoved her around, harassing her and ordering her around while kicking and shoving her, constantly asking where the safe was. About two weeks before that night was the 10th year anniversary of Nicole’s death. We were back at the orphanage where we honoured her memory like we did every year. And every year it seemed to get harder for Karabo to deal with the loss, which made my dad eventually decide that we shouldn’t go there anymore, as it only upset Karabo more than it made her come closer to closure.
Every year in the month of the anniversary, Karabo would be at a semi-function mode, she would do all the things just with a dead look on her face—not even a smile. Dad would try to make her laugh or talk to her, but nothing would ever help. And all I could do was just go to her and sit next to her in silence. At least I would get a warm embrace from her, which would be a good sign that she is still there; somewhere in there, she is not lost in the pain. There would also be those nights. They never go away. Even though dad would tell us both not to disturb them in date night, he would take to the side and tell me to call them first if Karabo has one of those dreams. She would have severe nightmares since childhood; apparently—even at the orphanage—she would cry out loud, tears and all, but could not open her eyes no matter what, as if she would be trapped somewhere in pain. There it was occasional, but after Nicole’s death it was more bad nights than good.
At times, she would feel that she had one of those kinds of nights. Sometimes it would be like nothing happened, but when she did, she would always ask me how bad it was. But because she was getting older and older, and they still seemed to go nowhere, she would be insecure about it—especially knowing that I might have seen it happen. I would always say it was mere mumble in her sleep. I didn’t know if she believed me or not, but I knew it was better than saying it was worse than before.
One night when she was 18, she was so afraid to go to bed. She started cutting herself. My father would always come and sing her favourite lullaby, even when she is fast asleep, to help ease off bad thoughts; that night he walked into a horror.
There was blood everywhere and she was still cutting her thighs. Her hands covered in blood and open cuts, but the most horrific thing my father said was the look on her face: She was happy, smiling and happy. Later, when they asked her why she did what she did, she said that it felt good. That it felt better than the pain she feels in her dreams—the pain she carries with her everyday. That at that moment, it felt good because it kept her awake. The blood kept her blankets wet and cold, and the open wounds had a pain that forced her to focus on it and nothing else in her head. It killed my parents to see her like that. But it was one thing to hear your child tell you of the horror she lived—the horror she felt at her every waking moment—than to see her demons come alive right before your eyes. And that is what we saw that night. There was no unseeing it. I still see it all, like it was happening at the present moment.
I suddenly decided to get out of my room to watch a movie. That’s when I walked into the horror: Two heavily armed guys with guns on my parents; the other one on my sister between the living room and the kitchen while she bled from the side of her head. I screamed my lungs out. When she heard me scream and followed by my mother’s cry, she suddenly woke up. The death look had gone from her face, but we didn’t know that the death moved from her face and it became her. She summoned up some courage. Something woke up in her—her need to protect what she had, her need to not feel useless, and watch as the people she loved leave her and die while she is left to suffer through it.
It eventually drove her to a point of total insanity in just a heartbeat.
The third guy got off her to go look for the safe on his own. She crawled up to the kitchen drawers, whilst the two were distracted by me, and she got a butcher knife. As she turned, the one guy was behind her and—without hesitation—she threw the knife at him. Hitting him in the head, he fell and she got on top of him. She chopped his head off first, with multiple strikes to the neck. She then took the knife to chop his arm off, but his first scream alerted the other two who were still debating as to who should go check what was going on.
One of the guys finally went in and he was riddled with bullets from the dead guys gun. She then turned to the guy, laying in the pool of his own blood and riddled his head with all the bullets that were left in that gun. She then picked up the other guy's. As the last guy was panicking, he shot my dad on his right leg, then pulled my mom and held her at gun point at the side of her breast. I had never been so afraid in my life. Not only because of what I feared the guy would do to my mom, but even more because of the look I saw in my sister’s face when she stormed in; it was worse than her death face or her terror nights, it was like someone pulled out all the demons and evil out of her in all its fury. She shot the guy twice on his shoulder—without even compromising mom, even in the struggle. He fell down, and with whatever strength there was left in him, he said something. He said he was sorry and that he was doing what he was told to do to get his fix. He said they meant no harm and for a minute, with the sincerity in his voice and tears running down his face in terror, I was convinced that no matter how horrid the night had become, he was the highlight of the night. He needed to get to the hospital urgently, but what happened next made me numb for weeks.
Karabo, in the middle of a sincere moment, shot the guy numerous times—I couldn’t even count anymore. So much so, that her body started shaking as if she was still being possessed by her demons. It was only when my mom called out her name that she suddenly stopped, stared into nothing with her eyes wide open, and tears began coming down her cheeks again, following the dried up trails of the earlier ones.
She woke up from whatever nightmare her body and mind had travelled through. She stopped, looked at the gun in her hands, an AK47, looked around, and slowly walked to the kitchen to look at the guys who came back and looked at the last one. She then dropped the gun down, fell down to her knees, and the tears came down, relentlessly. It was as if she had just walked into the scene and just got terrified by the aftermath.
Mom and dad went to her, hugged her, and promised her everything was going to be alright. But she knew that in the midst of her protecting her family with all that she had and all she could do, she had once again messed up her life.
At the trial, things started in her favour. She was a portrait as a victim who acted in self-defence, which was true. Her lawyer also mentioned that we were both still dealing with the shock, that we were so horrified by what had happened so much so that we both were unable to speak for weeks on end. And yet somehow, the defence team took all that the lawyer said and managed to make it work against us. They used the state of the crime scene to make it seem like my sister had the makings of a serial killer, that if she was let loose, she will strike in a different setting. It didn’t help that her history with mental breakdowns and the one suicide attempt were also brought into light.
“Your honour, I put it to you that although the defence team agrees that the accused is a victim, and acted in self-defence, the look at the actual crime scene explicitly show that she did more damage than the perpetrators would have done. She is not well, and in another minor violent situation, who knows what she will do—god forbid it even worse. If we let her be free, we are not only putting her and her family in danger, but the community around her. If the tables were turned, this crime scene would depict a crime of passion. A dangerous mind, living freely amongst society,” the defence argued.
He said it like the three had every right to break into our home and terrorise us, rape my sister, shoot my father, and hold my mother at gunpoint—all for a goddamn fix that we never even asked them to get themselves hooked on in the first place. “Bullshit!” I snapped from the gallery. Come to think of it, that was the first time I said anything ever since what happened. That was all the media needed to blow things out of control. My parents threatened one newspaper that got lost in the craze that published lies to make more sales—since almost everyone was writing the same things in different words. They were a smaller publication, so when they couldn’t afford the lawsuits, they released an apology.
My dad’s leg healed, but his heart was still heavy. His daughter was being ridiculed and persecuted. Everyone was quick to forget about the three guys who invaded us. Why couldn’t they put themselves in our shoes? In Karabo’s shoes? She is not crazy. He went in and out of a hospital because of his heart and high blood pressure, and my mom was just trying to keep it all together for all our sakes. Then something unexpected happened: Karabo asked to speak to dad in a private area at the hospital; we didn’t know what they spoke about. Even before everything, Karabo has always been more comfortable opening up to dad than my mom. Even after the adoption.
In the first few months of Karabo being at home, she walked around with her death face and kept to herself—until one day dad told her about how he and mom met, and then for the first time, she laughed. From then on, they have been close, and mom was just happy to see her opening up to them. They had made a deal. If dad stopped going in and out of the hospital, and started getting stronger again, she would ask to be put in the mental hospital. This didn’t seem much of a fair deal to me, nor did it make sense—except she knew she needed help in the three years that she got a sentence in, and she would make an effort to get better. And for a moment, things seemed to be going well for our family. We were healing. Dad got stronger, Karabo opened up more in family sessions and with her doctor, and finally seemed like three years would go by in no time.
And then it happened. When we found out about those boys, their boss asked to speak to us. It was Karabo's biological mother. She found that her boys attacked a family—a family she later found out adopted her daughter. She explained how she denied the boys anymore drugs until they did a job to prove themselves loyal to her. They had to bring a certain amount of money, each, or she was going to get them killed. She had attempted to put her child out of the danger of her business, but somehow, that plan fell apart the night those three boys brought her mother’s demons to her—the night Karabo finally gave into her insanity.
Now my sister requested that she get an increased sentence. She fears what she will do if she gets out. Her mother cursed her whole life by just giving birth to her. Dad still visits her. He's the only one she now speaks to or sees; not us, not her doctor, and no one except dad.
So there you have it. Even if you still believe the rumours to this, or hold your own negative opinions, at least now you do know the facts, and more importantly, the truth—from the horse’s mouth.