A life of agony lived in poverty

By Everson Luhanga

A family of 20 people share one room in the Witten village in Bochum, Limpopo.

The family, with the eldest a 54-year-old woman and the youngest an 18-month-old baby, share a room and an outside toilet that has no door.

Scrolla.Africa spoke to Thete Makwaeba, who has three daughters and one son. Her adult children have their own children and they all stay in a 4m x 4m house with a zinc roof.

The outside toilet has four steel poles with steel sheets that have been pasted to the poles.

Thete said life has been tough raising her children and grandchildren. None of the family members work and they survive on grants for the qualifying grant-recipient children. 

“Every day is a struggle to find something to eat,” said Thete.

Young children are forced to do hard labour when doing farm piece jobs to help the family get a bag of maize meal and vegetables for their meals. 

“We live a painful life,” the mother shared.

She said she applied for a Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in 2002 but nothing has come from it. 

She said government officials have been telling her that she doesn’t qualify for the house. 

“They know I have nothing and I have children who do not work and grandchildren including infants. But I cannot get any kind of help from the government,” she said.

She said for many years, she has been living in similar circumstances and watched her family increase in size until the one-room house could not house them all.

She told Scrolla.Africa that two weeks ago, one of her neighbours felt sorry for her and offered to help ease the overcrowding.

“My neighbour has been helping in many ways. In late September she asked me to select some family members to go stay in one of her shacks at her plot,” she said.

“Only eight could fit in that shack and I remained with the rest in this room.”

Thete raised issues of hygiene at the house. “We use a toilet that has no doors. It strips us of humanity,” she said.

Thete’s daughter, matric learner Masilelo Makwaeba who has remained with her mother, said it has been hard for her to study living with the entire family. 

“There is no time and nowhere I can study. There is always noise from small children. I don’t know what will happen to my studies and I don’t know what the future holds,” she said.

Pictured above: The Makwaeba family from Bochum in Limpopo province pleads for help from well-wishers.

Image source: Supplied


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