Teen fends for family
An 18-year-old young man is struggling to feed his two younger siblings following the untimely death of their mother and her unborn baby last week.
Neighbours say the young family has resorted to demeaning ways to support themselves following their mother's death. Izanaye Pati, 18, has been forced to fend for his two siblings aged 13 and nine following their mother’s passing.
The two children, who cannot be named due to the fact that they are minors, were busy helping their older brother to fix their derelict shack when Grocott’s Mail arrived in Ethembeni last Friday. Some neighbours had started to trickle in to lend a helping hand in any way they could.
Pati told Grocott’s Mail that his mother had a boyfriend she was seeing and was carrying his child when she died. The young man didn’t know much about what led to his mother’s death. He said he was under the impression she had gone to hospital because she was in labour.
Neighbours were trying to trace relatives of the young family's father, who is apparently in prison, to get them to help.
Police officers from the Joza police station had encountered the destitute family by chance as they handed out food parcels in the area last Friday. Police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender said the items were collected by both the Round Table of Grahamstown No 11 and the staff members of the Joza police station over a period of time. Govender said they had done many handovers throughout the year, but said they would remember that day because of their chance meeting with that family.
She said residents of Ethembeni informed the police officers about the plight of the young family.
“Their mother was admitted to hospital recently as she was due to
deliver their sibling. However, yesterday (Thursday), while in labour she developed severe and fatal complications which claimed the life of their dear mom and a sibling they will never meet,” Govender said.
Govender said by the time they were alerted to the family’s situation the team had handed out all the packages.
“On our return with a box of groceries and a huge bag of clothing, the eldest child, a male of 18, was busy packing the walls with mud, while the 13-year-old girl was busy at an outside fire cooking rice and the youngest, a nine-year-old male, was playing in the yard unaware of what was going on.”
Govender said: “The Sector Manager, Constable Stofile is in the process of involving the ward councillor to intervene and assist.”
The grandmother, who lives close by, went to the hospital to identify the mother, according to police.
“The children will be taken care of by the grandmother and neighbour,” Govender said.
Speaking to Grocott’s Mail yesterday, ward councillor Mncedisi Gojela said he was contacted by Stofile.
“I have gone to see the family and the children’s grandmother. I asked the grandmother to consider taking them in,” he said.
Gojela said he would try to work with the police and social workers from the Department of Social Department to assist the family.
Social Development district communications officer Mzukisi Matinise said the department would send social workers to assess the situation and since the eldest child is 18 they would check if he is capable of taking the role of being their foster parent.
“If not we will try and find other relatives who may be in a position to play that role,” he said.
Matinise said the family qualifies to receive food parcels.
Department of Child Welfare Grahamstown branch director Woineshet Bischoff said support is accessible for people in similar situations, but the key is knowing who to contact.
She said Child Welfare had produced a booklet to tell people exactly what to do when they find themselves in such a situation.
The booklet is available at the department for anyone who wishes to get a copy.
Bischoff said the Department of Social Development would be best placed to handle the young family’s situation.