Yoliswa Hlatshwayo
2 minute read
1 Jun 2020
3:02 pm

No social distancing for 32 Mpumalanga family members sharing two rooms

Yoliswa Hlatshwayo

The owner of the house reveals she has eight children and 18 grandchildren as well as her late sister’s children living with her.

Some of the children and grandchildren of the Mokoena family.

There is no social distancing in this impoverished family and they are not able to adhere to the rules and regulations of the Disaster Management Act set out for the national lockdown.

It is a chilly Wednesday morning when Mpumalanga News visits the Mokoena household after receiving a call from a Covid-19 screening official who was touched by the family’s living conditions.

Not all family members were present, but the owner of the house, Joyce Mokoena, 53, revealed she had eight children and 18 grandchildren, as well as her late sister’s children, living with her. Among the grandchildren, a 15-year-old boy has been battling with brain cancer since he was one.

Two of her daughters, who suffer from mental illness, recently gave birth. Mokoena described the situation as bad because only two of her children were employed as domestic workers and they tried to take care of household needs. Unfortunately, their efforts and the monthly social grants were never enough to sustain all 32 of them.

“There are many problems we are facing, including shelter. We hear on television and radio about the importance of social distancing, but for us, it is a different story because we must share. I sleep with some of my grandchildren in one of the bedrooms, while others in the other room and the lounge,” said Mokoena.

One of her oldest daughters, Masesi Thabethe, said as siblings, they all contribute an amount that totals to R3,000 monthly for groceries, including the infants’ essentials that do not last up to the 15th of the month.

She pleaded with any good Samaritan to assist her family with a larger shelter and employment because they often must send money to their younger brother, Sibongumusa Nkosi, a first-year civil engineering student at the Mapulaneng TVET campus in Acornhoek.

Nkosi, one of the applicants who has not received feedback from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, expressed how the circumstances at home affected him at school.

“It breaks my heart knowing that my family sleeps on empty stomachs on some days just so that money can be sent to me. My wish is for my application to be successful so that I can complete my studies and be able to assist my family and change the situation,” he said.

A follow-up on this article will be done as soon as consultations are done with the departments of health, and social development and human settlements.

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