The 13-year-old boy (second from left) sits at the door of a shack in which he stays with his older brother, who is always absent.
The sight of a sickly 13-year-old boy roaming the busiest streets of Malamulele town and begging for food and money from people caught the attention of a passer-by.
The boy approached Rialivhuwa “Ria” Mulidzwi and asked for some food in the central business district where Ria was enjoying a meal with her sister.
“I was deeply moved by the sight of this young boy who also was badly malnourished,” she said. “He had a protruding stomach and thin body. He was coughing blood. I asked him to join us while we were eating, so that we could get to know him better.”
The boy explained that his father had kicked him out of the house. His mother passed away in 2010. He was staying with his older brother at the shack of a Good Samaritan who let them make use of it since they had nowhere to stay.
“It was shocking news to my ears,” Ria said. “I then visited him at his village, just to make a difference in his life.”
When she got to Xigalo village outside Malamulele, she was shocked to find out that the young boy is truly staying with his 18-year-old brother who spends his time selling cell phone pouches in Malamulele and Giyani, and sometimes does not come back home.
“There was no food or even traces of food inside the shack,” she said. “So, I bought him some groceries from a local shop.”
When Limpopo Mirror visited the boy on Friday, he was lying on the place where he sleeps inside the shack. In his aloneness, he looked sad and hungry.
“If my mother was still alive, I would not have been going through this kind of pain and hardship,” he said. “When I go to Malamulele town, I see other children walking around with their mothers and fathers, and you can see they are loved and taken good care of. I also wish I could have a mother, but she had passed away when I was only a baby.”
He has to walk the seven kilometres from Xigalo to Malamulele town on the days that his brother does not come back home. “Sometimes I feel hungry and the only thing to do is to get to town and ask food from people,” he said.
His 20-year-old sister lives nearby with her partner and two children, a three-year-old and an eight-month-old. “I stay in a tiny shack with my partner and two children and as such we have no space [for him],” she said. “He has been sick and on chronic medication. I am not sure if he takes his medication properly or not, because I am not staying with him.”
The sister told Limpopo Mirror that they had lived with their parents in Soshanguve in Gauteng. Their mother passed on in 2010 and they were taken to a place of safety, a children's home, where they lived until their father came to fetch them in 2014.
“He lived in a proper home with a new wife, but when the wife kicked him out some months after, we were left with nowhere else to stay,” she said. “But he got a space where he built a small house at Xigalo village. He had another new partner who didn't take too kindly to us. We have been living on and off at his place ever since 2014. My brother, who sells cell phone pouches, and I also quit school and started doing piece jobs for survival.”
She explained that they shared with their father the little food that they bought. He surprised them all when he kicked them out some time last year. “He was sick, and he had grown irrational,” she said. “He would stare at my little brother for a long time, shaking his head. A tear would roll down his eye. Maybe he kicked us out because he was stressed; one will never know. My brother had just come from the hospital where he stayed for a long time after losing weight and complaining of a chest pain. Our struggle for survival is one of too much pain.”
When the journalist said goodbye, the 20-year-old sister walked to her shack in a separate yard, while the sickly 13-year-old brother padded to a shack in another yard, to his aloneness.
Date:08 April 2019 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.